ISPs drop fight against California's net neutrality law, will shift focus to DC

A group of the nation's biggest Internet service providers (ISPs) will no longer pursue a legal battle against California's net neutrality legislation.

Instead, according to Reuters, the group plans to take up the issue with Congress and the FCC. Meaning, the group will not pursue its challenge against California at the US Supreme Court. Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and other big ISPs were represented by telecom trade groups like USTelecom in the proceeding.

Supporters of California's law cheered the move.

"Today is a historic win for Californians and the open Internet," wrote Barbara van Schewick, a professor of law at Stanford University and the director of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society. "After losing three times in federal court, the ISPs have finally realized that they can't overturn California's net neutrality law and that they should just stop trying."

"Broadband providers are united in support of an open Internet," the group of ISPs wrote in a statement, according to Reuters. They said they would shift their focus to working with Congress and the FCC.

The United States Capitol at the end of the National Mall in Washington, DC. (Source: Inge Johnsson/Alamy Stock Photo)
The United States Capitol at the end of the National Mall in Washington, DC.
(Source: Inge Johnsson/Alamy Stock Photo)

At issue are rules in California that ban blocking, throttling and certain anticompetitive paid prioritization. The state passed the legislation after the Trump administration rescinded the net neutrality guidelines enacted on a federal level by the FCC during the Obama administration. The California rules have survived several legal challenges.

Now all eyes return to the FCC. President Biden's appointment to lead the agency, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel, supports net neutrality. However, the FCC remains split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans generally do not support net neutrality. Biden's fifth and final nomination to the agency, Democrat Gigi Sohn, has been waiting for Senate approval to join the agency since October 2021.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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