Consumer advocacy organization Fight For The Future released a statement on the battle over state-level net neutrality regulations in California, with Deputy Director Evan Greer saying that "The whole internet is watching." While that sounds like hyperbole, it's no understatement to say that California mounting the boldest stand of any state yet against the FCC's dismantling of Title II net neutrality laws is a real precedent-setter. The whole internet is indeed watching the proceedings closely, as are lobbyists, lawmakers, carriers, media companies, web and tech firms and of course journalists nationwide.
Fight For The Future, for its part, is cheering on a recent combination of bills by two senators to form a single catch-all net neutrality regulation that would put all of the normal key protections in place, with the notable addition of banning a variant of zero-rating, a fairly common practice wherein some types of traffic count against a data cap, and some don't. Specifically, it seeks to keep zero-rating and ISP interests wholly separate by banning the practice of letting companies and sites pay for zero-rating, in cash or otherwise. This practice has never been outright banned before, though the prior regulations did control how it could be used in order to keep it from becoming a practice that amounted to glorified fast lanes. The new bill has been the subject of lobbying and massive campaigns by both political and market sector interests, including mobile carrier AT&T. California's hard and fast proposal will be set before the state's Communications and Conveyance Committee on Wednesday, and only with a successful vote there can it move on in the state legislative process.
For those not familiar with California's bill, it bans zero-rating as noted above, as well as allowing media and content providers to pay for priority on the network, along with blocking or throttling certain traffic, among other practices. The bill is noteworthy in its scope, which exceeds the original Title II net neutrality regulations. A New York senator has introduced a version of the bill for consideration there, and if the bill manages to pass in both states, the FCC could have a tough fight ahead if it wants to enforce a passage of its repeal notice stating that individual states were not allowed to create their own net neutrality laws. Many other states already have similar proposals in various stages of legislature, though none so far match the bills in California and New York in their restrictions on what ISPs can and cannot do.