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Judge Notes CA Can Enforce Net Neutrality Law

A federal judge ruled that CA can enforce its net neutrality law.

CALIFORNIA — On Tuesday, February 23, a federal judge ruled that the state of California can enforce its net neutrality law after he dismissed a challenge by four telecommunication groups.

John A. Mendez, United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of California, allowed the law to go into effect, which was passed in California in 2018 and signed into law, known as SB (Senate Bill) 822, by former CA Governor Jerry Brown.

The telecommunication groups said in a statement “they will review the court’s opinion before deciding on the next steps,” according to Yahoo News.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), net neutrality is that “all data traffic should be treated indiscriminately, where Internet service providers (ISPs) would be restricted from blocking, slowing down or speeding up the delivery of online content at their discretion,” states its website.

The FCC first approved net neutrality under the Obama Administration in 2015.  In 2017, under the Trump Administration, the FCC reversed it in a 3-2 vote.

The Justice Department, under the Trump Administration, sued CA moments after Governor Brown signed the bill into law on September 30, 2018.

At the time, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy. . . we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order” and “we are confident we will prevail in this case — because the facts are on our side,” stated in a news release by the Justice Department.

The Biden Administration dropped the lawsuit in early February 2021.

CA State Senator Scott Wiener, who wrote SB 822, tweeted in a thread on February 23 that “the federal court just rejected the effort by telecom & cable companies to block enforcement of the net neutrality law I authored, #SB822!  The court ruled that California has the authority to protect net neutrality. . .SB 822 is the strongest net neutrality law in the nation.  We worked incredibly hard to pass this law, overcoming massive corporate opposition.  California can now fully protect an open Internet.”

That same day, Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), tweeted that when net neutrality was reversed, “states like California sought to fill the void with their own laws.  Tonight, a court in California decided that the state law can go into effect.  This is big news for #openinternet policy.”

The FCC has 5 members.  Aside from Rosenworcel, the other members are Brendan Carr, Nathan Simington, and Geoffrey Starks.  Former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, whose term expires this June, resigned on January 20, 2021, the day President Biden was sworn into office.

The vacant seat must be approved by the United States Senate.

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