DOJ sues Calif. over new net neutrality bill

Kelley Robertson
October 2, 2018

The US Department of Justice aims to find out-it has already hit California with a lawsuit in hopes of blocking the rules, and effectively raining on the state's parade.

The bill passed the state legislature with overwhelming and bipartisan support, and could unleash a wave of similar efforts in other states, with serious implications in the fight to restore net neutrality nationwide. Jerry Brown on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018.

The Justice Department nearly immediately filed its lawsuit, arguing Senate Bill 822 interferes with the federal government's deregulatory approach to the internet, according to a statement.

The Trump administration says the new law creates burdensome requirements that are at odds with federal law.

But the Justice Department said the law runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution, which gives the federal government the power to set rules for interstate commerce - and that, they said, means the internet.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a state-wide net neutrality bill into law on Sunday, only to be slapped with a Department of Justice lawsuit hours later.


"Net neutrality, at its core, is the basic notion that we each get to decide where we go on the internet, as opposed to having that decision made for us by internet service providers", Wiener said.

In December, the Federal Communications Commission said in repealing the Obama-era rules that it was preempting states from setting their own rules governing internet access.

The United States Telecom Association could also challenge the California law, saying net neutrality is best handled by the federal government.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Sunday the Trump Administration was ignoring "millions of Americans who voiced strong support for net neutrality rules" while California, which is "home to countless start-ups, tech giants and almost 40 million consumers - will not allow a handful of power brokers to dictate sources for information or the speed at which websites load". He complained that the California regulation would hurt consumers, arguing for instance, that it disallows many free-data plans allowing consumers to stream content exempt from data limits. "California fought Trump and Sessions on their immigration lawsuit - California won - and California will fight this lawsuit as well", Wiener said in a statement. Consequently, numerous other 25-odd states mulling over passing their own net-neutrality laws are undoubtedly going to keep tabs on the outcome of this trial, making this crucial to the fate of net-neutrality in the U.S.

Jonathan Spalter, who heads USTelecom, an industry trade group, said California's law will not "help advance the promise and potential of California's innovation DNA". California's net neutrality law prohibits this sort of thing. An identical bill was introduced in NY.

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