California Net Neutrality Bill Could Ban Paid Zero-Rating

California Democratic Senator Scott Wiener brought California in line with Washington and other states by introducing for consideration the state's very own Net Neutrality bill, and this one would not only supersede the FCC's decision to rescind Title II Net Neutrality provisions on a nationwide scale, but would take things a step further by banning paid zero-rating in data plans. This means that carriers and ISPs can no longer accept payment from content providers in order to see their content not count against customers' data plans. Specifically, the bill says that internet providers are banned from "Engaging in application-specific differential pricing or zero-rating in exchange for consideration, monetary or otherwise, by third parties."

To be clear, this means that internet providers can still allow certain content to not count against a user's data quota, but they cannot accept any sort of favor from the entity whose content they're offering to customers for free. The somewhat loose language could arguably also cover companies zero-rating their own content delivery services, as Verizon and AT&T have done with the Go90 service and the subscription-based, separately billed DIRECTV NOW, respectively. The case with DIRECTV NOW is a bit complex, since AT&T could possibly argue that the separate $35 for the service pays both access fees and usage incurred, but it could just as easily be counter-argued that this does not apply if the service is not accessed through AT&T's network. T-Mobile's zero-rating initiatives would be in some danger, too; for Music Freedom, T-Mobile would have to prove that it is not accepting any favors from music providers. The same could be said of Binge On, the company's deal to let customers get unlimited video streaming from certain video sources, if they're willing to accept that video being at a max resolution of 480p.

This move adds one more to the growing list of states openly opposing the FCC's Net Neutrality decision by working on their own laws concerning the concept. The FCC's repeal of Net Neutrality included a clause meant to keep states from enacting their own laws on the subject, but states are challenging that on the grounds that the FCC does not have the authority to make such a ruling.

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Daniel Fuller

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Daniel has been writing for Android Headlines since 2015, and is one of the site's Senior Staff Writers. He's been living the Android life since 2010, and has been interested in technology of all sorts since childhood. His personal, educational and professional backgrounds in computer science, gaming, literature, and music leave him uniquely equipped to handle a wide range of news topics for the site. These include the likes of machine learning, voice assistants, AI technology development, and hot gaming news in the Android world. Contact him at [email protected]