CENT California's 'gold standard' net neutrality becomes law - CNET

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California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law the strictest set of net neutrality protections ever seen in the US.

Up against a midnight deadline, Brown, a Democrat, signed a bill Sunday that makes the Obama-era net neutrality protections state law. The new law is considered the strictest set of net neutrality protections to date.

In addition to forbidding internet service providers from slowing down or blocking access to websites or charging companies like Netflix extra to deliver their service faster, the California law also outlaws so-called zero-rating offers, which allow carriers to exempt certain services from counting against a user's data cap. It also applies the net neutrality rules to so-called "interconnection" deals between network operators, something the FCC's 2015 rules didn't explicitly do.

California's net neutrality efforts have long been opposed by the Trump administration, which late Sunday told the Washington Post it would take the state to court to block the law. Earlier this month, Pai called California's law is illegal, arguing broadband is an interstate service, which can only be regulated by the federal government and not states.

The Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but told the newspaper it expects to file its lawsuit Monday morning.

The legislation, which is opposed by the broadband industry under the opinion it's too restrictive, had been sitting on Brown's desk since early September after it passed the State Assembly.

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California is just one of several states looking to enact its own rules governing an open internet, after the Federal Communications Commission, under Chairman Ajit Pai, rolled back the Obama-era net neutrality rules in June. States like Washington have pushed through a net neutrality law, while others are considering it. Meanwhile, attorneys general of 22 states and the District of Columbia have already filed their brief to a US Appeals Court to reverse the FCC's move. Companies like Firefox maker Mozilla and trade groups also filed their arguments.

Net neutrality, the principle that all internet traffic is treated fairly, has been one of the hottest topics of debate over the last several years. Consumers, tech companies and Democrats have pushed for stricter regulations prohibiting the prioritization of traffic, which resulted in the Obama-era rules put in place by the previous FCC. But the Trump-era FCC has agreed with the internet service providers and Republicans who fear the regulations are too onerous and hurt capital investment.

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