California

California state senator Scott Wiener and other Democrats are wasting no time in protecting net neutrality for Californians after the FCC’s recent decision.

In a tweet, Sen. Wiener (D-San Francisco) blasted the December 14 decision, in which rules put in place by former President Barack Obama to protect net neutrality were dismantled by a 3-2 margin.

“We won’t let the FCC undermine our democracy,” Sen. Wiener tweeted.

If the bill passes, all companies bound by contracts using state infrastructure to provide cable or phone services will be legally required to abide by net neutrality rules, meaning they can’t arbitrarily slow down or censor content for customers. Sen. Wiener’s legislation is co-sponsored by five other Democratic senators, and a House version has 6 co-sponsors as well.

While other states like New York and Washington state are considering similar legislation, the bill’s potential passage in California is likely to be fiercely opposed by internet service providers (ISPs) given California’s massive tech economy. Should net neutrality become the law of the land in California, it would likely deal a major blow in ISP’s lobbying efforts against net neutrality nationwide.

The controversial December 14 decision by the FCC to repeal net neutrality rules was heralded by ISPs like Verizon, which said the decision was necessary to undo what it characterized as excessive regulation of its industry. In his official statement in support of repealing Obama’s Title II regulations ensconcing net neutrality, FCC chairman Ajit Pai — a former Verizon attorney — said critics of his opposition to net neutrality were using “apocalyptic rhetoric.”

“As the debate has gone on, their claims have gotten more and more outlandish,” Pai stated. “Simply put, by returning to the light-touch Title I framework, we are helping consumers and promoting competition.”

California-based tech giants like Netflix, Google, and Facebook — as well as Seattle-based tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft — have all been vocal in their support of net neutrality. As of this writing, however, these companies have yet to weigh in on the legislation introduced Wednesday in the California statehouse.

 

Jordan Shaw is a New Jersey-based freelancer specializing in national and state government issues. When he’s not writing, you can find him volunteering in Camden, New Jersey, or hiking the Wissahickon Valley Park.

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