Millions of Californians are waiting for Gov. Jerry Brown to affirm their call for a free and open Internet.
After Congress reversed the Federal Communication Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order, states have had to step up to ensure that all traffic on the Internet is treated equally. Gov. Brown’s signature would make California the fourth state to pass a law offering net neutrality protections to its residents.
While EFF applauds the states that have taken steps to provide net neutrality protections, we believe California’s is the strongest measure in the country. It goes beyond the basic protections laid out in Washington and Oregon to prevent blocking and interference to ensure that Internet service providers cannot circumvent net neutrality protections at any point in delivering service to consumers.
The bill also goes further than other measures by prohibiting ISPs in California from using the practice of discriminatory zero-rating – that is, raising costs on competitive services or apps by exempting their own affiliated products or for companies that pay the Internet access provider for preferential treatment. It also does not allow ISPs to charge other companies for access to their customers, a ban that has been in place for decades.
California’s decision to fight this battle in the legislature also sets it apart from other states that have enshrined limited protections through a governor’s executive order, which can only dictate ISP’s conduct in state contracts. Laws are also harder to reverse than executive orders, ensuring that these important consumer protections cannot be reversed in the future with the flick of a pen.
ISPs such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast objected to several protections in the state’s bill, and nearly succeeded in stripping the measure of many of its protections. Outcry from Californians demanding a free and open Internet restored these protections, and ensured the bill passed with bipartisan majorities in both the state legislature and state senate. As a result of that groundswell, the legislation on the governor’s desk is the nation’s most comprehensive, pro-consumer net neutrality measure.
Net neutrality remains popular across the country, and the fight to protect the open Internet continues in states across the country and in Washington D.C. The victory that your voices won over industry money in California can be achieved again.
We will continue to fight for a free and open Internet in the state of California and encourage other states across the country to look at the bill as a template for their own net neutrality rules.
Californians: tell the governor to sign the net neutrality bill