California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to restore net neutrality in the state late Sunday, Reuters reports.
Previously approved by the state Assembly and Senate, despite protests from internet service providers and cable lobbyists, California’s net neutrality rules are thought to be the strictest in the United States, according to Ars Technica.
“While the Trump administration does everything in its power to undermine our democracy, we in California will continue to do what’s right for our residents,” Senator Scott Wiener, the author of the bill signed into law, said.
The state’s legal authority to pass and impose its own net neutrality law has been dubbed “illegal” by the Federal Communication Commission’s chairman, Ajit Pai, so the state of California’s initiative will be challenged in court.
U.S. Department of Justice officials announced that they would be suing California. The lawsuit is expected to be filed Monday.
Justice Department officials said that they would “take the state to court on grounds that the federal government, not state leaders, has the exclusive power to regulate net neutrality,” arguing that the FCC has Congressional authority to ensure that all 50 American states don’t seek to write their own set of rules for the world wide web.
A group lobbying on behalf of internet service providers AT&T and Verizon has also threatened to sue states that impose their own set of internet regulations, according to Ars Technica. However, the FCC’s power to override state laws is not unlimited, and similar attempts have previously been struck down by federal appeals courts.
The Inquisitr has extensively reported about the issue of net neutrality, a set of rules meant to ensure a free and open internet, blocking internet service providers from slowing down, throttling, and banning websites.
An ongoing internet campaign, which started almost immediately after the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality, in December, 2017, seems to have pressured legislators to take action. But it has, apart from that, had significant repercussions on the American online landscape, causing unprecedented spikes in VPN usage.
Gigi Sohn, a former senior aide to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, told Reuters that California’s state law “is now the model for all future state and federal legislation,” and what internet users “across the political spectrum” want. Wheeler ran the FCC during the Obama administration, when the net neutrality rules were adopted.
In a speech earlier this month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai doubled down on California net neutrality criticism, calling the legislation “radical” and “anti-consumer.”