California Lawmakers Resurrect Tough Net Neutrality Bill

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California lawmakers are resurrecting SB822, the tough net neutrality bill that recently appeared to have fallen to ISP lobbying efforts and ended up being water down in a significant manner, causing massive public outcry. Following $14,000 in crowdfunding raised for the purposes of putting up a protest billboard in the district of Assembly Member Miguel Santiago responsible for toning down the bill, thousands of phone calls, and even more social media messages, the Democratic politician seemingly conceded to the pressure and vowed to have all of the law’s core net neutrality protections restored. In a prepared statement issued on Thursday, Mr. Santiago also revealed he’s now on board to co-author the legislation.

Among the key provisions that were removed but will now be restored is a ban on many types of zero-rating, a practice that sees wireless carriers and Internet service providers not count data coming from certain sources toward their customers’ monthly allocations. Opponents of such policies argued they’re conducive to the creation of monopolies, whereas some supporters remain adamant zero-rating is extremely popular in low-income households. The practice wasn’t outlawed by the 2015 Title II protections the Federal Communications Commission revoked earlier this year, leaving consumers and small businesses without protections against any telecom giant interested in pressuring them to pay to have their content prioritized and/or avoid seeing their websites throttled.

Many ISPs repeatedly said they aren’t interested in pursuing such predatory practices but nothing currently prevents them from doing so at any moment. Likewise, Internet operators may eventually start charging consumers for content packages that don’t provide access to all websites equally quickly less they’re willing to pay more, something the Title II regulations also prevented. ISPs often criticized the now-repealed rules enacted under the former Obama administration as placing them under unfair scrutiny by classifying them as utility companies, noting that they’re not against the concept of an open and truly neutral Internet being codified on a federal level. Still, no telecom juggernauts want to see paid prioritization outlawed, which many net neutrality supporters claim is just a differently presented method of traffic throttling and discrimination which inevitably lead to information censorship.