California Set To Pass New Net Neutrality Legislation, Pending Approval From Governor

Jerry Brown speaking.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

California legislators approved a bill yesterday to pass some of the nation’s strongest laws regarding net neutrality. The new measure is headed for the governor, Jerry Brown’s, desk. Governor Brown has not yet indicated whether or not he will sign the bill.

The new bill will prohibit internet providers from blocking certain content or giving higher speeds to some kinds of internet sites over others. Under these laws, internet providers would be required to treat all internet traffic equally. The law would apply to both home and mobile connections reports The Verge.

The bill would also ban “zero rating,” according to NBC. “Zero rating” is the practice where internet providers can choose which outlets do not count against the monthly data cap, effectively giving advanced privileges to select group of partners.

“The premise fundamentally of net neutrality is that we as individuals get to decide where we go on the internet as opposed to be told by internet service providers,” said Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat who wrote the bill reports NBC.

Many advocates for net neutrality find the California legislation hopeful. Many fear the “cabelisation of the internet” that would occur under the absence of net neutrality. Net neutrality became a prominent issue nationwide when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed Obama-era net neutrality laws in late 2017. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called net neutrality laws “micromanaging” of the internet, reported NBC back in November. The repeal came as a great win for internet providers.

Nancy Pelosi speaks.
Nancy Pelosi spoke at an event to undo the repeal of net-neutrality. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Some are opposed to the new California bill. Many telecommunication companies want to reserve the right to stratify their business packages. Jonathan Spalter, the president and CEO of the industry group USTelecom spoke out against the legislation in a statement according to NBC. He said the new bill “undercuts California’s long history as a vibrant catalyst for innovation and technology.”

The bill was passed in the state Senate yesterday with a vote of 23-11, reports the Verge. It was originally passed in the Senate in May. However, the bill took on considerable changes in the ensuing process, so it needed to be returned to the Senate for another vote after it passed in the State Assembly earlier this week.

It is currently unclear whether or not the California state governor, Jerry Brown, will approve the bill. Though Governor Brown has not yet signed the legislation, many in the state government approve of the bill, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Kamala Harris, reports the Verge.