ISPs end fight against California net neutrality law
In a win for net neturality, ISPs agreed to end their legal challenge to a 2018 Californa law that bars providers from throttling service. Telecom groups and California Attorney General Rob Bonta today jointly agreed to dismiss the case, reportedReuters.
It’s fair that say that luck hasn’t exactly been on the telecom industry’s side. Earlier this year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider its ruling that California’s law be upheld. And last year, the US DOJ dropped its own lawsuit over the net neutrality law, which the agency had filed during the Trump administration.
“Following multiple defeats in court, internet service providers have finally abandoned an effort to block enforcement of CA's net neutrality law. This is a win for California and for a free and fair internet,” wrote Bonta in a tweet.
After Trump-appointed FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai overturned the agency's net neutrality rules in 2017, California’s legislature decided to enact its own law. The state’s net neutrality law, which went into effect in August 2018, expanded on previous federal rules by banning the use of “zero-rating” by ISPs in an anti-competitive manner. Zero-rating occurs when an ISP exempts any of its affiliated services from eating away at a customer’s data caps. For example, AT&T Wireless once exempted HBO Max from the data caps of its internet customers. The company dropped this practice last year, and blamed the impact of California’s law. Digital rights groups like Electronic Frontier Foundation have argued that zero-rating is hostile to consumers, especially those from low-income households.
Federal net neutrality rules that were blocked under the Trump administration have yet to be restored by the FCC under President Joe Biden. That’s because the five-member panel is currently short one member, which they’ll need in order to vote on net neutrality. The agency is awaiting the Senate confirmation of Gigi Sohn. But thanks to intense lobbying from telecom groups and a number of Republicans (and moderate Democrats) in Congress, Sohn’s confirmation is stalled at present.