California Net Neutrality Bill Clears Major Hurdle

The California Assembly voted to enshrine net neutrality in state law, a major step forward for advocates of the open internet.

The state’s lawmakers today approved a bill that would restore Obama-era protections that the Federal Communications Commission abolished earlier this year, in yet another challenge to the Trump administration’s policies.

The legislation would prohibit internet providers from blocking or slowing down websites and video games or charging fees for faster speeds. The bill also prohibits internet providers from engaging in a practice called “zero rating,” in which it exempts certain content from monthly data caps.

The bill passed by a lopsided 61-18 vote in the Assembly. Now, the legislation moves on to the Senate, which is expected to take up the bill tomorrow the last day of the legislative session.

“No one wants their cable or phone company to control what they see and do on the internet,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of the advocacy group Fight for the Future.

The bill was the subject of aggressive lobbying and online advocacy campaigns that garnered national attention.

The legislation gained momentum after Verizon throttled service as Santa Clara firefighters battling the Mendocino Complex Fire, prompting more than 1,000 first responders to sign an open letter calling for the restoration of net neutrality protections.

Internet companies fought vigorously against California’s net neutrality bill, saying state-by-state regulations can be confusing and tough to implement. The industry warned it might inhibit investment an innovation in the state.

“What the country needs is permanent bipartisan federal legislation that will benefit consumers and ensure consistent rules of the road for all companies and across all websites,” said the CTIA in a statement.

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