In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rolled back federal protections for net neutrality. The FCC disavowed its authority to regulate broadband Internet service providers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, an authority that was necessary to support federal net neutrality regulations.
California and other states stepped into this void to protect their residents from abuse at the hand of broadband providers, with California leading the nation by passing SB 822, providing state-level protections for net neutrality.
The largest players in the broadband industry sued, arguing, among other things, that this kind of regulation could only be enacted by the FCC, never by states. The federal government sued as well.
The California statute and litigation were put on pause while the FCC’s 2017 order was facing a legal challenge of its own with the potential to impact the California case.
In late 2019, a federal Court of Appeals partially upheld and partially overturned the 2017 order, with some elements returning to the FCC for further consideration. The California litigation then resumed with the parties and amici briefing the question of whether the law should be suspended while the case is heard.
EFF strongly supports legal protections for net neutrality, to ensure that Internet users continue to decide freely what to read and say online, rather than their Internet providers deciding for them or skewing their experience of the open Internet