California's 'gold standard' net neutrality becomes law - CNET

It's official. California has adopted net neutrality protections that surpass the Obama-era rules thrown out by the Trump administration last year.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law the strictest set of net neutrality protections ever seen in the US.

Up against a midnight deadline, Brown, a Democrat, signed a bill Sunday that makes the Obama-era net neutrality protections state law. The new law is considered the strictest set of net neutrality protections to date.

In addition to forbidding internet service providers from slowing down or blocking access to websites or charging companies like Netflix extra to deliver their service faster, the California law also outlaws so-called zero-rating offers, which allow carriers to exempt certain services from counting against a user's data cap. It also applies the net neutrality rules to so-called "interconnection" deals between network operators, something the FCC's 2015 rules didn't explicitly do.

The legislation, which is opposed by the broadband industry under the opinion it's too restrictive, has been sitting on Brown's desk since early September after it passed the State Assembly.

California is just one of several states looking to enact its own rules governing an open internet, after the Federal Communications Commission, under Chairman Ajit Pai, rolled back the Obama-era net neutrality rules in June. States like Washington have pushed through a net neutrality law, while others are considering it. Meanwhile, attorneys general of 22 states and the District of Columbia have already filed their brief to a US Appeals Court to reverse the FCC's move. Companies like Firefox maker Mozilla and trade groups also filed their arguments.

Earlier this month, Pai called California's law is illegal, arguing broadband is an interstate service, which can only be regulated by the federal government and not states.

Net neutrality, the principle that all internet traffic is treated fairly, has been one of the hottest topics of debate over the last several years. Consumers, tech companies and Democrats have pushed for stricter regulations prohibiting the prioritization of traffic, which resulted in the Obama-era rules put in place by the previous FCC. But the Trump-era FCC has agreed with the internet service providers and Republicans who fear the regulations are too onerous and hurt capital investment.

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