The California Legislature has passed SB 822, a strong internet neutrality bill. The vote was 27 -12. Next, the bill goes to Governor Jerry Brown.
SB 822 would restore the net neutrality rules that were enacted federally under former President Barack Obama. Those rules were repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December of 2017.
In May of 2018, the United States Senate overturned the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules by using the Congressional Review Act. But, for net neutrality to be reinstated federally, the House of Representatives would also have to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the FCCs repeal of net neutrality – and then President Trump would have to sign it into law.
In my opinion, this is why some state legislatures are passing their own net neutrality bills. It seems to me that states can enact net neutrality legislation faster than the federal government will.
California also has a unique reason to pass a strong net neutrality bill. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s command vehicle faced email delays and challenges updating web-based documents with critical information about deployment during the Mendocino Complex fire.
Their internet provider was Verizon Wireless, who (according to the Los Angeles Times) “throttled down the department’s connection to 1/200 or less than previous speeds because the agency had exceeded its data plan limit.” Verizon says the situation was a “customer support mistake” and has nothing to do with net neutrality.
I live in California, and am hoping that this bill becomes law. Net neutrality is especially important for people who have chronic illnesses and/or disabilities (myself included) who are unable to work a typical job. Many of us are able to earn some income online because we can fit that work around our health issues and doctor appointments.
SB 822 (if signed into law) will prohibit internet service providers from:
- Blocking lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.
- Engaging in zero-rating in exchange for consideration, monetary or otherwise, from a third party.
- Zero-rating some internet content, applications, services, or devices in a category – but not the entire category.
- Unreasonably interfering with, or unreasonably disadvantaging, either an end user’s ability to select, access, and use broadband internet access service or the lawful internet content, applications, service, or devices of the end user’s choice, or an edge provider’s ability to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to end users.