The California Senate voted on Wednesday to approve a bill that would reinstate the net neutrality regulations repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December.
The bill, S.B. 822, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D–San Francisco), was introduced in March and passed through three committees, all along party-lines. The bill was approved 23–12 and will now head to the state Assembly.
“Under President Obama, our country was moving in the right direction on guaranteeing an open internet, but the Trump-led FCC pulled the rug out from under the American people by repealing net neutrality protections,” Wiener said in a statement last month after the bill passed its final committee vote.
After the FCC moved to eliminate net neutrality rules, states began implementing their own measures. In January, over 20 attorneys general sued the commission before the order was even published. Some governors attempted to use executive orders, while others worked with legislators. California’s bill to restore protections in the state is one of the toughest responses to the FCC’s rollback.
California’s bill is one of the toughest responses to the FCC’s rollback
The bill would reinstate rules similar to those in the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order. It forbids ISPs from throttling or blocking online content and requires them to treat all internet traffic equally.
But the bill also takes the original rules further by specifically banning providers from participating in some types of “zero-rating” programs, in which certain favored content doesn’t contribute to monthly data caps.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a statement on Tuesday that called the bill “a gold standard for states looking to protect net neutrality.”
Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who spearheaded the Obama-era regulations, supports the bill. In March, he wrote a letter to the California Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee with two other former chairmen approving of the measure.
“These protections are essential to our economy and democracy. SB 822 steps in to protect Californians and their economy by comprehensively restoring the protections put in place in the 2015 net neutrality order,” the chairmen said.
If the bill goes on to pass in the Assembly, providers will no longer be able to obtain government contracts in the state of California without obeying the regulations.
“A gold standard”
After receiving final approval last month from the Office of Management and Budget, the federal net neutrality rules are set to end on June 11th, leaving states to legislate their own protections. California would be the third state to pass a net neutrality law, following Washington and Oregon.
“In California, we can lead the effort to clean up this mess and implement comprehensive, thorough internet protections that put California internet users and consumers first,” Wiener said.