California lawmakers passed the toughest net neutrality law in the country on Friday, thus guaranteeing that internet providers cannot favor certain websites and securing full and equal access to the internet.
However, their move will most likely cause a backlash from federal regulators who voted last year to erase such rules. If signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, the legislation would also prevent internet providers from blocking and slowing websites and would make it illegal for carriers to exempt apps from consumers’ monthly data caps if doing so could harm competing start-ups and small businesses, The Washington Post reports.
It would also add California to the list of states already at odds with the Federal Communications Commission. Brown has not yet taken a public stance on the bill.
“It would have huge implications for the U.S., because California is so central to all things Net and is the world’s eighth-largest economy,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, adding that the legislation might be followed by a lawsuit against it which could end up in the Supreme Court.
Since the FCC’s decision on net neutrality took effect, over 20 states have begun suing it. A number of states have introduced bills to replace the defunct regulations, and three of them have already approved them.
The bill’s sponsor Senator Scott Wiener described it as “basic consumer protections, protecting small and midsize businesses, protecting activists and labor unions and anyone else who uses the Internet.”
Industry groups, however, are not in favor of state-by-state laws but rather a single, uniform law by Congress.
“The internet must be governed by a single, uniform and consistent national policy framework, not state-by-state piecemeal approaches. Governor Brown should use his veto pen on this legislation, and Congress should step in to legislate and provide consumer protections that will resolve this issue once and for all,” said an industry trade group’s representative.