The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Sunday night sued California over its new net neutrality law, Senate Bill SB 822 — widely considered to be the gold standard for net neutrality legislation nationwide — just a little over an hour after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill. The lawsuit claims the California bill is “unlawful and anti-consumer” because it goes against the federal government’s policy and regulates the Internet.
The new California legislation bars internet service providers from throttling website speeds, blocking access to certain websites, and charging extra fees for large websites such as Netflix and Facebook.
State legislators began crafting the legislation last year after the Trump administration rolled back net neutrality protections. The bill was briefly gutted and sidelined, triggering a huge public backlash eventually leading to the restoration of key components of the original bill.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement after the bill’s signing said it was a win in the battle against the president’s agenda.
“While the Trump Administration continues to ignore the millions of Americans who voiced strong support for net neutrality rules, California — home to countless start-ups, tech giants and nearly 40 million consumers — will not allow a handful of power brokers to dictate sources for information or the speed at which websites load,” Becerra said.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued that the federal government should have ultimate authority over net neutrality policies, the AP reported.
Telecom companies have rallied against the bill since it was first introduced. The United States Telecom Association released a statement agreeing that net neutrality should be the purview of the federal government.
The battle over net neutrality has been fraught since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)‘s controversial decision last December to roll back Title II protections passed in 2015 which designated internet service providers (ISPs) as “common carriers,” mandating that they must treat all traffic on the internet equally.
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