U.S. Justice Department Sues California for Reimposing Strict Net Neutrality Protections

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On Sunday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that will bring back strict net neutrality protections to users in the state, four months after net neutrality officially expired in the United States thanks to the FCC's vote to repeal the regulations last December (via USA Today).


Now that California has renewed net neutrality in the state, the United States Justice Department has filed a lawsuit in attempt to strike down the bill. In a statement, the Justice Department says that California's Senate Bill 822 "unlawfully imposes burdens on the Federal Government’s deregulatory approach to the Internet."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also commented on the lawsuit:

Sessions: “Under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce—the federal government does. Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy. The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order. We will do so with vigor. We are confident that we will prevail in this case—because the facts are on our side.”

Pai: “I’m pleased the Department of Justice has filed this suit. The Internet is inherently an interstate information service. As such, only the federal government can set policy in this area. And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently reaffirmed that state regulation of information services is preempted by federal law.

“Not only is California’s Internet regulation law illegal, it also hurts consumers. The law prohibits many free-data plans, which allow consumers to stream video, music, and the like exempt from any data limits. They have proven enormously popular in the marketplace, especially among lower-income Americans. But notwithstanding the consumer benefits, this state law bans them."

California is not the first state to pass its own net neutrality bill, but none have yet been as strict. Under the law, California broadband providers will not be able to slow down or block any websites, charge higher fees to customers to receive faster internet speeds, and the law also limits some zero-rated data plans.

Without net neutrality regulations, internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T have the legal ability to throttle any traffic on their networks, and block access to sites and services completely, as long as they inform their customers of their actions. In essence, many have theorized that this could lead to ISPs bundling "packages" of internet sites and selling them like cable companies, as well as putting high-paying customers in "fast lanes" and everyone else in "slow lanes."

Net neutrality opponents, like Pai, say this will lead to "better, faster, cheaper internet access for consumers, and more competition." They also cite the return to an "open" and less regulated internet, seen prior to the 2015 induction of net neutrality.

Numerous technology companies have voiced support of net neutrality over the past year, including Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, and more. Apple last year stated that the net neutrality repeal could "fundamentally alter the internet as we know it," and if it passed it would be put in place to the detriment of consumers, competition, and innovation.

For California, a legal battle will now happen between the state and the Justice Department, with a few other individuals opposing California's law. This includes U.S. Telecom Association CEO Jonathan Spalter, who said, "Rather than 50 states stepping in with their own conflicting open internet solutions, we need Congress to step up with a national framework for the whole internet ecosystem and resolve this issue once and for all."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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24 months ago
Something something states’s rights something something.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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24 months ago
Another example of Republican's BIG government Trumping state rights issues. I feel like I live in bizzaro world now.

They only seem to support state rights issues when the state is trying to limit civil liberties or destroy the environment. This is the problem with partisan politics. I feel like half the reason the Republicans are as bad as they are today is because the Democrats had some good ideas and by default the Republicans took the opposite position without consideration. The other half of the reason is because there actually are a bunch of racists in the party. Not everyone but a lot more. Both sides can have good ideas, and the Democrats have been guilty of dismissing some good Republican ideas as well over the years, but the Republicans are taking it to an extreme in the past several years and are out of control. Just look no further than their supreme court nominee who instead of being a calm and considerate impartial justice of the highest order is frothing at the mouth during these hearings—barely able to control himself. My four year old daughter can handle her emotions better than he can. Not sure why they don't just replace him with another conservative justice at this point, but this was their top pick, so I'm not hopeful that they have anyone better lined up.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago

Another example of Republican's BIG government Trumping state rights issues. I feel like I live in bizzaro world now.

They only seem to support state rights issues when the state is trying to limit civil liberties or destroy the environment.

The pattern is actually quite simple. They are “pro state rights” when it’s what corporations want. For example a reduction in environmental protections. They are “anti state rights” when it’s what corporations want. For example a reduction in consumer protection. In all cases, they want whatever the big corporations want.

The other stuff - abortion etc. - is just a sideshow, an attempt to secure their conservative base so the base will vote for corporate interests.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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24 months ago
Funny that they don’t have any problem with states’ rights when it comes to restricting abortion access.

Ajit Pai is just a servant who is looking out for his masters that will reward him once his time at the FCC is up. This is just another item on the list that the next Dem administration will correct along with all of the damage done at the EPA and CFPB.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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24 months ago
State’s rights????

Or does that only apply to Red states?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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24 months ago



It's good to point out paid (mostly corporate) lobbying didn't start in the U.S. until the early 70's (GOP) with the Dems coming on board in the late 70's - which at this point has almost totally corrupted the Federal political system here in the U.S. except for social issues the parties depend on to lock in voters. Paul Manafort (the same guy) was a key player in creating this paid lobbying and (now) massive industry.

“Government by the people for the people” has become “government for the highest bidder.”

Good for California. This is a state rights issue as well.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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