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California Resists Federal End To Net Neutrality

Ricardo Calegari/Flickr

Ricardo Calegari/Flickr

California elected officials are taking a two-pronged approach to combating the Federal Communications Commission’s recent order to end net neutrality.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined New York and 20 other states in a lawsuit Tuesday. The filing against the Federal Communications Commission argues that the agency’s decision to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality order last month was arbitrary and capricious.

The rule prohibited internet providers from prioritizing one online company’s content over another’s. Cable and wireless companies argued the rule is burdensome and unnecessary, while tech companies generally supported it.

Meanwhile, a bill to enact net neutrality in California is moving forward in the state Legislature—but even supporters of the concept have qualms about it.

The bill “preserves the heart of the FCC’s net neutrality rules,” California Democratic state Senate leader Kevin de León said at the bill’s first hearing last week. “And prohibits ISPs from blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.”

The measure tasks the state Public Utilities Commission with implementing a state version. But some of the most ardent advocates for net neutrality oppose that, including tech companies and some open internet groups.

Ernesto Falcon, legal counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the bill tries to unconstitutionally regulate interstate commerce and has been rushed by De León, who’s running against U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein for her seat.

“There is zero point to pass a bill quickly that’s going to lose just as quickly in court,” says Falcon. “If that is the intention behind the bill—just to score some political points but not actually move the ball forward—EFF has no reason to support that,” Falcon says. “We would actually actively oppose that.”

He prefers a competing bill, by Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener, that would require providers to adopt net neutrality to receive state funds. De León has said he’s open to amending his measure. 

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