Enforcement of California's recently instated net neutrality laws and legal proceedings associated with the laws, passed in Senate Bill 822, have now been delayed as part of an agreement reached between plaintiffs in at least two cases against the state and the State of California. That's according to court documents spotted by Android Headlines that indicate that the stay of non-enforcement will continue for no less than 30 days after the stay expires. That period will be extended further, pending any new motions filed by the plaintiffs – in this case, the US Department of Justice or the American Cable Association – during that 30-day period. Aside from those plaintiffs, the stay also seems to place on hold suits brought by CTIA – The Wireless Association, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, and USTelecom – The Broadband Association.
Background: California's net neutrality ruling was passed back in August in an attempt to circumvent the FCC's repeal of the consumer protections, incorporated in 2015 under Title II, in late 2017. In short, SB 822 seeks to put a stop to anti-competitive, and therefore anti-consumer, actions by providers. One example of that is zero-rating practices, wherein providers don't count data from specific services against their users' monthly data allotments. Opponents to the practice claim it gives carriers and ISPs a way to unfairly push their own secondary services on consumers. Hypothetically, for example, AT&T could push its own OTT cable services from DirecTV while still counting streaming media from other companies against a user's monthly data usage. Proponents say that the practice is better for users in low-income situations who might not otherwise be able to afford to use any such services.
Setting that aside, however, the net neutrality regulations also went a long way toward stopping similar practices such as service throttling and blocking of content on any basis other than the legal viability of that content. Providers could still block content that was illegal but could not throttle connections to competing service providers or to block those types of connections. However, as with zero-rating practices, proponents assert that there's no good reason to believe that ISPs would conduct themselves in that manner and that the regulation stifles competition. After the repeal of Title II regulations by the FCC, SB 822 was put forward and was met almost immediately by opposition from service providers across almost every applicable category of service. Revised versions were put forward later on and the passing of the law resulted in a suit being brought by the US government itself.
Impact: Bearing that in mind, this stay does not necessarily push the case against California in either direction. Although the case against California via governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra is at the center of the hold that's been filed, the hold itself seems to stem primarily from another court case. Specifically, that case is Mozilla Corp. v. FCC and that could have far greater implications, for the time being, than California's case. The tech company has asked for a review of the repeal from the US Supreme Court and D.C. District Court. Alongside other cases which actually challenge the legality of the repeal in-so-far as it concerns the FCC's authority to preempt state-level decisions, Mozilla has also been actively seeking to prove that the FCC's actions were unfounded, to begin with. It also argues that the FCC's dismissal of comments from the public is directly relevant to whether the FCC has the authority to actually repeal the regulations.