California Agrees To Delay Net Neutrality Law Pending Outcome Of Federal Lawsuit

from the round-and-round-we-go dept

California has agreed to pause the state's shiny new net neutrality law pending the outcome of a looming federal lawsuit against the FCC. After some early gamesmanship courtesy of AT&T, California passed one of the toughest net neutrality laws in the nation (which isn't saying much) back in September. The law effectively mirrors the discarded 2015 FCC net neutrality rules, though the law goes a little further to ensure that ISPs can't abuse things like zero rating (exempting a partner or an ISP's own content but not others) and usage caps.

In a not entirely-unexpected move, the state late last week struck a deal with government and industry lawyers, agreeing to delay its implementation until a lawsuit against the FCC can be settled. That federal lawsuit, filed by Mozilla and 23 State Attorneys General, isn't expected to hear opening arguments until February. If the FCC and industry lose, the 2015 rules would be restored. If the FCC and industry win, the legal fight shifts to whether states will be allowed to implement their own rules, potentially, eventually, coming down to new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Given the looming federal lawsuit, the decision to pause California's effort is largely just about legal efficiency. But Ajit Pai being Ajit Pai, the FCC boss, in a statement, was quick to declare the agreement as a one-sided victory; namely his:

"I am pleased that California has agreed not to enforce its onerous Internet regulations. This substantial concession reflects the strength of the case made by the United States earlier this month. It also demonstrates, contrary to the claims of the law’s supporters, that there is no urgent problem that these regulations are needed to address. Indeed, California’s agreement not to enforce these regulations will allow Californians to continue to enjoy free-data plans that have proven to be popular among consumers."

Granted things have been pretty quiet in the wake of the repeal not because the rules aren't necessary, but because ISPs don't want to add any ammunition to the looming federal lawsuits against the FCC. Should they win that lawsuit, you can be absolutely certain you won't miss their efforts to nickel-and-dime consumers. Regardless, the bill's author, Scott Weiner, didn't think much of Pai's victory lap:

In perfect operational symmetry (since we're not even operating under the pretense that lobbyists aren't dictating federal policy anymore) both the broadband industry and the Department of Justice sued to block Califormia's law, claiming that the FCC's net neutrality repeal pre-empts (bans) states from trying to protect consumers. Most lawyers I've spoken to have stated the FCC's attempts to thwart state consumer protections aren't legally sound, and the best the industry (and its BFFs at the FCC) can do is delay, not kill, state net neutrality rules.

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Filed Under: ajit pai, broadband, california, fcc, net neutrality, scott weiner

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  1. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 1:38pm

    Since Pai continues to be an asshole about it...

    Can the public take back its offer to delay enforcement? I want my net neutrality!

    I also don't want our Federalist-Society-packed Supreme Court to decide my net neutrality doesn't fit in with their world-order vision.

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