Los Angeles Times

State to delay net neutrality law as FCC repeal is challenged in court

- By Maura Dolan

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra agreed Friday to put the state’s new net neutrality law on hold until a federal appeals court decides whether the Trump administra­tion acted lawfully last year when it ended regulation of internet service providers.

California’s law, the broadest in the nation, would restore Obama-era rules designed to treat all data on the internet equally. Providers could not block or slow data or favor sites that pay broadband companies more for priority.

The Trump administra­tion and the broadband industry sued California this month to block the law, which was supposed to take effect in January.

The administra­tion also asked that the law at least be put on hold until a federal appeals court in Washington decides whether ending net neutrality was lawful.

In the case before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a panel is weighing a challenge brought by public interest groups, companies and 32 states, including California, against the Federal Communicat­ions Commission’s decision to end net neutrality.

If the D.C. appeals court decides the FCC acted arbitraril­y and capricious­ly, net neutrality protection­s could return nationally. The federal appeals court also is expected to decide whether states can issue regulation­s of their own.

A decision is expected next year.

“It’s disappoint­ing that the law won’t go into effect in January, but we’re hopeful that the D.C. circuit will vacate the FCC’s unlawful repeal so we can return to a framework that ensured the internet remained open to everyone,” said Kati Phillips, a spokeswoma­n for Common Cause.

The government watchdog group has sided with the states in the D.C. case and supports the California law. Phillips said all of the parties to the case have agreed to a stay.

“Today’s stay represents a pause in our litigation to guarantee we can argue the defense of California’s net neutrality on behalf of our 40 million people,” a spokespers­on for Becerra said.

Becerra said in a statement that his office intends to “vigorously defend” the law.

maura.dolan @latimes.com Twitter: @mauradolan

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