Countering FCC, Calif. Lawmakers Pass Net Neutrality Law

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S.B. 327 by Jackson won a final vote of 28-9 in the Senate Aug. 29 to accept amendments made while the bill was in the Assembly.

The bill would prohibit internet providers from blocking or slowing data based on its content or from favoring websites or video streams from companies that pay extra.

"It would have huge implications for the US, because California is so central to all things Net and is the world's eighth-largest economy", said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. "The California Assembly's vote today keeps the country strapped into a roller-coaster ride of state net neutrality regulations, but won't get us any closer to the stable and consistent net neutrality protections consumers deserve in the long term".

But the current FCC, led by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai, repealed those regulations in June, with Pai calling them "heavy-handed".

Supporters of the legislation believe that if the California bill becomes law, other states may follow suit and pass their own net neutrality bills. For example, a company could not give free speedy access to its own streaming service but slow down Netflix. "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.

If the measure passes both chambers of the Democrat-controlled state legislature it would still require approval from Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who has not said if he would sign it into law. "California could pass a gold standard net neutrality bill, providing a template for states going forward", the organization wrote.

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The repeal came as a great win for internet providers. AT&T is the parent company of CNN.

Assembly Bill 2658, authored by the body's Majority Leader Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, cleared the Assembly on August 27 and is headed to the governor.

Telecommunications industry groups including the California Cable and Telecommunications Association and the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association opposed the legislation. "We support an open internet, but this bill move us no closer to that".

California lawmakers just passed Senate Bill 905, which could allow bars in nine California cities to serve alcohol until 4 AM instead of 2 AM. In January, attorneys general of more than 20 states sued the FCC.

The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. "They're still paying attention".

This is not the first time California has broken the mold in terms of tech regulation.

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