California bill would restore, strengthen net neutrality protections

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With the Federal Communications Commission order to repeal net neutrality rules set to take effect, a bill that would restore those regulations in California will get its first hearing.

SB 822, written by State Sen. Scott D. Wiener (D-SF) is backed by big names including Tom Wheeler, the Obama-appointed former FCC chairman who wrote the 2015 Open Internet Order. SB 822 would in some ways be stronger than the net neutrality rules put in place under President Obama’s administration after more than a decade of legal and political wrangling. Those rules required equal treatment of all internet traffic, and prohibited the establishment of internet slow and fast lanes. Wiener’s bill would also prohibit “zero rating,” in which internet providers exempt certain content, sites and services from data caps. In addition, it would prohibit public agencies in the state from signing contracts with ISPs that violate net neutrality principles, and call for internet service providers to be transparent about their practices and offerings. 

SB 822 also has the support of the mayors of some of the biggest cities in the state, including that of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and Los Angeles, plus dozens of startups and consumer interest groups including the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In addition, more than 52,000 Californians signed letters supporting the bill, which has 14 co-sponsors.

The broadband industry is opposing state-level rules on net neutrality.

California bill would restore, strengthen net neutrality protections