Reactions to California Net Neutrality Law

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After Gov Jerry Brown (D-CA) signed California's net neutrality legislation into law AND the US Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the state of California, a number of policymakers and advocates responded:

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): “The enactment of California’s net neutrality law is a huge victory for the free and open internet. California has shown Washington and the rest of the country that the internet warriors fighting to save net neutrality will not be stopped."

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA): "Bravo to Governor Brown and the lawmakers in my home state for working tirelessly to restore strong Net Neutrality protections in California. A free and open Internet is essential to prosperity and improving the quality of life for all Americans, and this law ensures that California’s online ecosystem can continue to thrive. It’s now time for the rest of the country to follow California’s lead. The void created by the FCC when the Commission walked away from net neutrality is vast and we’ve already witnessed examples of some of the worst practices that can take place without clear Net Neutrality laws, including the throttling of Santa Clara County Fire’s data services during the largest fire in California history. I’m confident the FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality last year will ultimately be overturned by the D.C. Circuit, but in the meantime, every single state should pass legislation similar to California’s to protect the free and open Internet.”

California State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco): “This is a historic day for California. Today marks a true win for the internet and for an open society. I’m proud of the broad and diverse grassroots coalition that moved this legislation forward and got it passed. I’m thrilled the bill was signed, but now it’s on to the next fight. We will defend this law...California fought Trump and Sessions on their immigration lawsuit — California won — and California will fight this lawsuit as well. I have complete confidence that Attorney General Xavier Becerra will do a great job defending this law.”

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown Law Center: "This is no surprise. The Trump Administration and FCC Chairman Pai have consistently favored the giant cable and phone companies at the expense of small businesses and the public. The legal argument for preemption is fatally flawed. The FCC claims that it has no authority to regulate broadband internet service. Courts have consistently held that when the federal government lacks authority to regulate, it cannot preempt states from regulating."

Gigi Sohn, Benton Senior Fellow and former Counselor to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: "California’s net neutrality bill is now the model for all future state and federal legislation. It completely reinstates the 2015 Open Internet Order, including protections for interconnection and against anticompetitive and anti-consumer zero rating practices. This is what Internet users across the political spectrum have said they want by overwhelming majorities. Californians, and indeed all Americans, owe a debt of gratitude to SB 822’s original sponsor, Senator Scott Weiner, the bill’s supporters, and Governor Brown. The pressure from the big broadband providers to kill or water down the bill was enormous.  But thanks to the great work of consumer, grassroots and net neutrality advocacy organizations, academics and ordinary Californians, those efforts were beaten back over the many months of debate over this bill. What happened in California should send a message to other states and to Congress – the American people want the open Internet protected, and they will fight extremely hard until they achieve that goal."

Public Knowledge VP Chris Lewis: "As is often the case, California is setting a strong example for Congress and other states on the type of net neutrality protections an overwhelming majority of Americans expect. Only in Washington D.C. is this controversial due to the influence of broadband provider lobbyists. Even in California, that influence was strong, but an outpouring of support from consumers and small businesses helped to remind policymakers just how popular net neutrality protections are."

Free Press Action Fund Policy Director Matt Wood: “Governor Brown’s signature on the California Net Neutrality bill is a significant milestone in the effort to restore essential communications rights for everyone in America. The right to speak online without interference from your broadband provider is essential for starting a new business, finding educational opportunities, organizing against injustice, and creating and distributing news, music, art and other information. The Trump administration’s decision to sue the state of California just for stepping in to fill the void created when Ajit Pai wrongly took away these congressionally granted rights is unfortunate and hypocritical in the extreme. While Beltway Republicans often extol the virtues of local self-determination, Ajit Pai’s FCC has moved to strip away control from cities and states time and again — whether those cities and states are introducing their own Net Neutrality bills, building their own broadband networks or even regulating corporate ISPS’ use of government land. As the preemption suit moves forward, cable and phone lobbyists will wail about how they can’t comply with a patchwork of different state laws prohibiting broadband providers from unreasonably discriminating against internet users’ basic rights. This complaint is completely absurd given that the same lawyers and lobbyists from AT&T and Comcast were the chief culprits in destroying the blanket federal protections on the books. The enactment of California’s new law is a testament to the popular appeal of strong open-internet protections, but beyond that it’s a testament to the power of organizing to overcome lobbying cash. Groups like the Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, Consumers Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, and dozens more campaigned tirelessly in Sacramento for passage of this measure.”

Eric Null, Senior Policy Counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute: “The passage of SB 822 is a win for internet freedom and the ongoing fight for net neutrality. California once again has shown that it is willing to protect consumers in the face of substantial opposition from large corporate interests. This law will prevent internet service providers from unduly influencing internet traffic, thereby allowing Californians to continue to decide what content they want and when they want it, and allowing the online market to continue to flourish. Other states should follow in California’s footsteps.”

Evan Greer, deputy director of the advocacy group Fight for the Future: “This victory in California is a testament to the power of the free and open internet to defend itself. And it’s a beacon of hope for internet users everywhere who are fighting for the basic right to express themselves and access information without cable and phone companies controlling what they can see and do online.”

Robert Cruickshank, campaign director at Demand Progress: "This is a big day for net neutrality. Gov. Jerry Brown has just restored a free and open internet to the 40 million people of California — the world’s fifth largest economy and home to many major tech companies. This law passed with a large bipartisan majority thanks to an unprecedented outpouring of community activism the likes of which Sacramento has not seen for some time. We now urge the U.S. House of Representatives, especially members representing California, to quickly sign the discharge petition and force a vote to use the Congressional Review Act to restore net neutrality for all 50 states.”

Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union: “Today marks a huge victory, not only for Californians but for the future of the internet. California’s net neutrality law will ensure that competition and the free market — not backroom agreements by internet providers — determine success on the internet, with all voices having equal chance to be heard online. And despite FCC Chairman Pai’s claims, this law will ensure that the internet as we’ve known it for years can continue to flourish as a level playing field.”

Barbara van Schewick, a professor at Stanford Law School: "An agency that has no power to regulate has no power to preempt the states, according to case law. When the FCC repealed the 2015 Open Internet Order, it said it had no power to regulate broadband internet access providers. That means the FCC cannot prevent the states from adopting net neutrality protections because the FCC's repeal order removed its authority to adopt such protections."

Joan Marsh, AT&T executive vice president of regulatory and state external affairs: "State-by-state regulation in this area is insufficient and unworkable because the internet is a global network of networks that enables consumers to access and use information, content and services without regard to state, and even national, boundaries. Accordingly, we support the Justice Department's lawsuit to preempt the California statute."

US Telecom president Jonathan Spalter: “We all support strong and enforceable net neutrality protections for every American – regardless of where they may live. But this bill is neither the way to get there, nor will it help advance the promise and potential of California’s innovation DNA. Rather than 50 states stepping in with their own conflicting open internet solutions, we need Congress to step up with a national framework for the whole internet ecosystem and resolve this issue once and for all.”

American Cable Association President Matt Polka: "The American Cable Association supports the lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice against California to overturn the state’s Internet regulation legislation. The California law seeks to regulate interstate commerce and plainly intrudes on federal authority. Moreover, if the California law were permitted to go into effect, it would harm consumers by stymying small and medium-sized ISPs’ investments in broadband networks in the state and the deployment of innovative services. ACA believes the best means of addressing any consumer concerns about having an open Internet is for Congress to step in and adopt national legislation codifying the three bright line rules (no blocking, no throttling, no unreasonable paid prioritization) -- not for California and other states to adopt a patchwork of open Internet rules that would end up imposing different requirements based on where consumers access the Internet.”


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