- A bill that would ensure net neutrality for California residents is making its way through the state legislature.
- If passed, California would have the strongest net neutrality protections in the country.
- The bill go further than the original 2015 net neutrality rules put in place by the FCC by banning anti-competitive zero-rating programs.
California may soon have strongest net neutrality protections in the country.
A bill making its way through the state legislature would guarantee California residents net neutrality, which prevents Internet Service Providers from blocking or slowing down traffic to particular applications or websites.
The Golden State is one of several US states working to create such safeguards after federal rules protecting net neutrality were repealed in December.
If the bill passes, California would be one of three states — along with Washington and Oregon — that have passed individual net neutrality laws. California’s bill would also be the toughest of the three.
In fact, California’s rules would go further than even the original FCC guidelines.
Here is everything you need to know.
How is the California bill different?
California’s net neutrality bill would, if passed, prohibit ISPs from blocking or slowing down particular websites. It would also ban ISPs from charging websites fees to reach customers. But what makes the bill go further than the original FCC regulations and other state laws is the prohibition of so-called zero-rating.
Zero-rating is the practice of letting customers access certain websites or applications without it counting against their monthly data cap. That sounds like a good thing. But consumer groups say that when zero-rating plans are used to promote services owned by the broadband providers, or by companies that pay the providers to market them, they are akin to fast lanes — they give preferential treatment to favored websites, and make smaller, independent sites less desirable.
While the California bill doesn’t ban all zero-rating altogether, it does ban anything that is anti-competitive or favors one website or application over another. For example, plans that would exempt Netflix and not Hulu from data caps wouldn’t be allowed. But exempting all traffic between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. would be.
Zero-rating programs weren’t specifically barred under the now-defunct net neutrality protections, they were reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Late in the Obama administration, the FCC opened up an inquiry to see if they violated the general conduct provisions. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai ended that inquiry after he took over as head of the agency.
What do ISPs think about California’s bill?
In a statement to Business Insider, CTIA, a trade association representing the telecommunications industry, called the California bill “flawed”
“By banning cost-saving programs that consumers have come to rely on, it will jeopardize the benefits of technology in the state and lead to increased costs for Californians,” the statement reads.
Is this is a long term solution?
No. Most people on either side of the debate agree that since ISPs operate across states, a federal law is the best way to govern them. Plus, when the FCC rolled back the 2015 net neutrality rules, it included a provision that preempted states from creating their laws, making it likely the law will be challenged in court.
One possibility is for Congress to create legislation that codifies net neutrality into law, essentially superseding the FCC’s power to rollback the guidelines. But that seems unlikely in the near term given that Republicans, who generally have opposed net neutrality rules, currently control both house of Congress.
So what happens next?
The California state senate and state assembly reached a compromised on their respective net neutrality bills on Friday. But the resulting bill still needs to be approved by the full legislature and signed by the governor.
NOW WATCH: This conveyor belt can move in any direction
Source: FS – All – Entertainment – News
Everything you need to know about California's tough net neutrality bill