Apple Magazine

FEDERAL JUDGE SAYS CALIFORNIA CAN ENFORCE NET NEUTRALITY LAW

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A federal judge this week ruled that California can for the first time enforce its tough net neutrality law, clearing the way for the state to ban internet providers from slowing down or blocking access to websites and applicatio­ns that don’t pay for premium service.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in 2018, making California the first state to pass a net neutrality law. Open internet advocates hoped the law would spur Congress and other states to follow suit. The Trump administra­tion quickly sued to block the law, which prevented it from taking effect for years while the case was tied up in court.

The Biden administra­tion dropped that lawsuit earlier this month. But in a separate lawsuit, the telecom industry asked a federal judge to keep blocking the law. U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez denied their request, allowing California to begin enforcing the law.

California state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco and the author of the law, called the ruling “a huge victory for open access to the internet, our democracy and our economy.”

“The internet is at the heart of modern life. We all should be able to decide for ourselves where we go on the internet and how we access informatio­n, ”Wiener said.“We cannot allow big corporatio­ns to make those decisions for us.”

In a joint statement, multiple telecom industry associatio­ns said they will review the judge’s decision “before deciding on next steps.” They urged Congress to set net-neutrality rules for the country rather than relying on states to come up with regulation­s on their own.

“A state-by-state approach to Internet regulation will confuse consumers and deter innovation, just as the importance of broadband for all has never been more apparent,” read the statement from the Cellular Telecommun­ications and Internet Associatio­n, ACA Connects, the National Cable and Telecommun­ications Associatio­n and USTelecom.

California’s law was spurred by the Federal Communicat­ions Commission’s 2017 decision to repeal net-neutrality rules that applied nationwide. The telecom industry fought hard against the bill, arguing it would discourage companies from investing in faster internet speeds.

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Image: Lorie Leilani Shelley
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