Two California Net Neutrality Restoration Bills Move Forward

Two California net neutrality bills have now been moved forward in a bid to establish net neutrality rules within the state as law. The bills, SB 822 and SB 460, were coauthored and proposed earlier this year by Democratic Senators Scott Wiener and Kevin de Leon. The first of those was introduced January 3 and has now passed through the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee and will be up for a vote on the Assembly floor next week. In addition to reinstating net neutrality protections previously in place for the state, the bill takes its rules a step further to ban paid zero-rating. That effectively means that content providers can no longer pay to prioritize their offerings not counted against a consumer's data usage. Moreover, it prevents any 'differential pricing' in exchange for any type of 'consideration' whether that's monetary or not. The addition should make it difficult for carriers or ISPs to shift pricing or offerings in favor of their own content or partner content.

On the other hand, SB 460 will be making its way to the Assembly Privacy Committee and was introduced as early as February 16 of 2017. However, as it is currently written, it is essentially intended to augment SB 822. It affords all of the rules up for consideration within that other bill but applies them to government agency ISP contract obligations. In short, no government agency would be able to enter into a contract with a service provider that is in violation of SB 822. The goal is to ensure that any company that isn't following the new rules does not receive any monetary compensation from California's taxpayers either directly or indirectly. That also explains why the initial introduction date is from before net neutrality regulations were repealed.

The news comes in the wake of a major pushback against the late 2017 repeal of Title II net neutrality regulations which prohibited ISPs and carriers from taking part in anti-consumer practices. More recently, that has included demands from attorneys general from 22 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have publicly called for the rules to be reinstated. The decision to remove the regulations also included a clause intended to stop laws falling in line with Title II regulations from being enacted at the state level. Nevertheless, it appears as though California's net neutrality bills may, in fact, become law, following in line with several other states that have already been challenging whether or not the FCC has that authority.

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