California lawmakers pass a strict 'net neutrality' bill

Supporters of Net Neutrality protest

Supporters of Net Neutrality protest the FCC's decision to repeal the program in Los Angeles, California, November 28, 2017.

Credit:

Kyle Grillot/Reuters

California lawmakers sent to the governor's desk for final approval strict "net neutrality" laws on internet providers that would defy sweeping Federal Communications Commission rules seen as a boon for the companies.

The Democrat-controlled California Senate voted 27-12 to pass the bill, known as SB 822, with just hours left in the legislative session. The measure was approved by their colleagues in the state Assembly one day earlier.

Governor Jerry Brown, also a Democrat, has not yet said if he would sign the bill into law. He has 30 days to act but does not typically signal his intentions before legislation lands on his desk.

"We did it, we passed the strongest net neutrality standards in the nation," Democrat Scott Wiener, the bill's author, said in a written statement issued after the vote. "The internet is at the heart of 21st century life — our economy, our public safety and health systems, and our democracy."

Supporters of California's proposed regulations contend that net neutrality rules would bar major internet providers from blocking, slowing down or giving preferential access to online content.

Critics say the restrictions limit internet providers' ability to recoup the costs of network improvements and lead them to curb investment.

In June, the FCC under President Donald Trump repealed rules adopted during the Obama administration that barred internet service providers from blocking content or charging more for access, a move intended to establish a more level playing field or "net neutrality."

State attorneys general and the District of Columbia asked a federal appeals court earlier this month to reinstate the Obama regulations.

They were joined in that action a week later by a coalition of trade groups representing companies including Alphabet Inc, Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc.

The US Senate voted in May to keep the Obama-era internet rules but the measure is unlikely to be approved by the House of Representatives or the White House.

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