California Governor Signs Net Neutrality Bill, FCC Calls It 'Illegal'

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In short: California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on Sunday signed the country's tough net neutrality bill into law, with the United States Federal Communications Commission already preparing a lawsuit against it. In a statement provided to media outlets on Monday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the bill "illegal" and argued it hurts consumers by disallowing zero-rating practices. California is now set to wage a legal battle against the federal regulator that will decide the outcome of state-level net neutrality in the entire country.

Background: The highly controversial Restoring Internet Freedom Act authorized by the FCC earlier this year not only does away with all legal protections of the open Internet but also prohibits state governments from enacting their own rules meant to preserve the neutrality of the World Wide Web. California and a number of other states already dismissed that provision as unconstitutional, whereas numerous proponents of net neutrality also argued that provision goes against the very notion of the Republican party's small-government mantra. The other side of the political aisle is arguing the repealed net neutrality protections discouraged innovation and hurt economic growth, a notion that net neutrality proponents describe as baseless. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance also criticized Governor Brown's latest move; in a statement provided to AndroidHeadlines, TPA President David Williams argued that "less free data, coupled with less broadband investment, will only spell disaster for the state's struggling households."

Impact: To date, 22 states publicly called for net neutrality protections to be reinstated on a federal level and some went as far as to openly rebel against the polarizing repeal by pushing for state-level rules requiring the Internet to remain open, though California became the first to officially codify them. The legal fight with the FCC that will follow this development will largely decide the current FCC's legacy, though the protections themselves are likely to be officially reinstated the moment the DNC takes back the White House, provided Congress doesn't enact its own rules beforehand, which remains a possibility.

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