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Deal Puts California's Tough Net Neutrality Law on Hold

Jeff Baumgartner
10/26/2018
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California, the US Department of Justice and several trade groups that represent many of the nation's ISPs have cut a deal that would delay enforcement of California's tough net neutrality bill that was on track to take effect with the start of 2019.

The agreement, which still needs approval from the California district court, will put California's law (SB 822), signed last month by Governor Jerry Brown, on hold while the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reviews and resolves the FCC's 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom order. The FCC order rolled back the previous network neutrality rules or any subsequent proceedings that might end up before the US Supreme Court. A Mozilla -led group filed its petition against the FCC rules rollback in August with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Last month, the DoJ filed a lawsuit against the state over SB 822, arguing that it's invalid partly because it is pre-empted by federal law. (See FCC Nixes Net Neutrality Rules on June 11, California Streamin': State Gets Tough on Net Neutrality and DoJ Slaps California With Net Neutrality Suit .)

The delay could mean that the California law will be on hold for a year or longer, according to Reuters.

Per a proposed deal to the US District Court for the Eastern District of California, the state has agreed that the period of non-enforcement will run until 30 days after possible conditions that include an expiration of the stay.

An agreement for a temporary stay represents a "win" for consumers and will ensure that further investment and innovation in broadband while the deliberations continue, a trade group comprised of United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) , CTIA , NCTA – The Internet & Television Association and the American Cable Association (ACA) , said. "Our companies support an open internet, and we urge Congress to resolve this issue by passing a national framework to protect that principle for all Americans," they added.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also cheered the agreement, calling it a "substantial concession" by California. He added that the deal also demonstrates that "there is no urgent problem that these regulations are needed to address" and that a "patchwork of state laws only introduced uncertainty in the broadband marketplace that will slow down investment and deployment of infrastructure and hurt consumers."

California's law is considered the toughest so far. In addition to prohibiting ISPs from blocking and throttling data, it also takes aim at paid interconnection deals and "zero-rating" policies that exempt some traffic from data caps and other usage-based data policies. (See Cable Ops Preparing to Exempt Some OTT Services From Data Caps .)

Earlier this month, the trade groups tied to the California action, filed suit against the state of Vermont over that state's move to restore the rules under its own law. (See ISPs Sue Vermont Over Net Neutrality Rules.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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