net neutrality

California’s Net Neutrality Legislation Put On Hold For Now

Ajit Pai
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

We haven’t really heard much about net neutrality lately.  Last month, California’s governor signed the state’s net neutrality bill into law.  Which, is legislation that restores the net neutrality protections that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed last year.  The whole idea of repealing this makes it complicated.  Essentially, the law that California has introduced will make it illegal for ISP’s to throttle your access to the internet.  Or make it more expensive for you to watch your favorite movies through Netflix.  But California was hit quickly with a lawsuit from both the Department of Justice, as well as from industry groups representing companies like AT&T, Charter, and Verizon, which claimed that the law went against the FCC’s regulations.

California’s law was set to take effect at the start of next year, but the state has now agreed to delay its implementation and wait on the litigation until a federal challenge to the FCC’s decision is settled.  Meaning, it’s going to take some time before this whole thing gets settled. This may, or may not be a bad thing.

State Senator Scott Wiener, who authorized the legislation, said in a statement that while he wants to see the law put into effect, he understands why Attorney General Xavier Becerra agreed to the delay:

“Of course, I very much want to see California’s net neutrality law go into effect immediately, in order to protect access to the internet. Yet, I also understand and support the Attorney General’s rationale for allowing the DC Circuit appeal to be resolved before we move forward to defend our net neutrality law in court.”

In 2018, 23 attorneys general filed a lawsuit with the FCC over this order, as did a number of local governments, rights groups, and businesses which include Mozilla, Vimeo, and Etsy.  Their case is being heard by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and until a ruling, in that case, is issued – and all appeals are exhausted – the California case will have to stay on ice, as will its net neutrality legislation.  This sounds a bit like someone is orchestrating this, and I dare say that it might be linked to the Trump Administration.

Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman, had this to say about what’s happening in California:

“I am pleased that California has agreed not to enforce its onerous internet regulations. his substantial concession reflects the strength of the case made by the United States earlier this month,” he added. “It also demonstrates, contrary to the claims of the law’s supporters, that there is no urgent problem that these regulations are needed to address. Indeed, California’s agreement not to enforce these regulations will allow Californians to continue to enjoy free-data plans that have proven to be popular among consumers.”

Pai had originally called this legislation illegal.  And while it technically is, it seems like a bit of a stretch, doesn’t it?  I mean, just because a government enacts legislation doesn’t make it right.  So, maybe a state is looking at ways to ensure that residents don’t have to be subjected to ridiculous laws.  It feels like this is a stall tactic, in order to ensure that the California law doesn’t get pushed through.  I could be wrong on this, but time will tell.