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California sends net neutrality bill to governor’s desk

September 1, 2018

California is poised to pass legislation countering the Trump administration’s repeal of Obama-era net neutrality protections after the state Senate advanced a bill Friday prohibiting internet service providers from engaging in business practices including throttling connection speeds and extrajudicially blocking websites.

State senators passed SB-822 by a vote of 27-12, sending the bill to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office in light of the proposal garnering similar support Thursday by lawmakers in the California Legislature’s lower house.

If signed into law by Mr. Brown, a Democrat, the bill will codify “the strongest net neutrality protections in the country,” according to its main sponsor, California state Sen. Scott Wiener.

The Federal Communication Commission under former President Barack Obama passed rules prohibiting internet service providers, or ISPs, from throttling speeds, blocking lawful content and engaging in other practices considered to be in violation of the core principles of net neutrality, a concept essentially requiring ISPs to treat all web traffic equally.

FCC leadership under President Trump eliminated those protections in late 2017, however, prompting state and federal lawmakers across the country to consider proposals like the one introduced by Mr. Wiener, a Democrat who represents parts of San Francisco and San Mateo County.

“The internet is at the heart of 21st century life our economy, our public safety and health systems, and our democracy. So when Donald Trump’s FCC decided to take a wrecking ball to net neutrality protections, we knew that California had to step in to ensure our residents have access to a free and open internet,” he said in a statement Friday.

“I am incredibly proud of the work we have done to protect Californians everywhere, who deserve equal and open to access to this modern day necessity,” Mr. Wiener said in a statement. “We hope that other states can look to this legislation as a model for net neutrality standards.”

Mr. Brown has not indicated if he will sign the bill, and a spokesperson for the governor did not immediately return an email seeking comment. He has until Sept. 30 to veto the bill or sign it into law.

Governors of six states have signed executive orders restoring elements of the net neutrality protections rescinded by the Trump administration, and state legislature in three others have successfully enacted proposals similar to the one being considered in California.

Representatives for the FCC did not immediately comment on Friday’s vote.

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