As the FCC has attempted to abandon its role as the defender of a free and open Internet at the federal level, states are attempting ways to step into the void. Prior to December, the FCC’s rules prevented Internet service providers (ISPs) from preventing or slowing down traffic to websites. The rules also restrained ISPs from imposing users higher rates for faster access to specific websites or charging websites to be automatically entered in any sort of “fast lane.” On December 14th, the FCC voted to exclude these restrictions and even adjudicated to make it harder for anyone else to regulate ISPs in a similar way.
Wiener’s proposed legislation, co-authored by ten state association and Senate Democrats, has a plenty of ways to ensure that telecom companies working in California adhere to the principals of net neutrality. Washington and New York have similar bills in the process and Wiener isn’t even the only California lawmaker proposing legislation, as state Sen. Kevin de León has included a net neutrality bill as well.
The substance of the law is still in the works, but the intent is to leverage the state’s assets as a center to require networks to operate neutrally. In reality, the California bill would require net neutrality of markets that operate within the state of California if they are relying on state support or state funding to provide the service.
EFF supports this bill, as the FCC’s actions in December mean states must implement whatever protections they can to safeguard the Internet as we know it. However, state governments can only restore network neutrality for some Americans, and only a general rule can ensure that everyone in the homeland has access to a neutral net.