California Just Made a Big Move on Web Traffic

Passes toughest net neutrality law in the nation, setting up fight with the feds; on governor's desk
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2018 6:04 AM CDT
California Makes a Big Move on Net Neutrality
A Comcast truck.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

California is once again sticking a thumb in the eye of the Trump administration, this time over net neutrality. Lawmakers on Friday passed the toughest net neutrality law in the nation, less than a year after the feds did away with such rules, reports the Los Angeles Times. The measure is now on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk, though he has not taken a public position on it. California wouldn't be the first state to create its own rules requiring that internet service providers such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon treat all web traffic equally—instead of, say, slowing down content from a business rival—but it would be the largest. ISPs already have vowed to challenge such efforts in federal courts, and California's entry into the fray would make it a good bet that the fight will land in the Supreme Court, reports the Washington Post.

“It would have huge implications for the US, because California is so central to all things 'net and is the world’s eighth-largest economy,” says University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias. Consumers groups back net neutrality, while the industry argues that "the internet must be governed by a single, uniform and consistent national policy framework, not state-by-state piecemeal approaches," as a statement from USTelecom puts it. California's law actually goes further than the net neutrality laws struck down by the FCC, notes the New York Times. For example, it would ban what's known as "zero rating," which allows companies to not count certain apps or streaming services against a customer's data limit, as a way to play favorites. The AP's example: AT&T wouldn't be able to exempt videos from CNN, which it owns, from a cap that applies to competitors. (More California stories.)

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