California-Washington battle over net-neutrality laws

Global Business

California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, second from right, speaks at a news conference at the state Capitol as Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, from left, Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, listen in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday, July 5, 2018. The lawmakers announced they’ve reached a deal on legislation to enshrine net neutrality provisions in state law after the Federal Communications Commission dumped rules requiring an equal playing field on the internet. (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

California recently passed a law protecting net neutrality – the concept of guaranteeing equal access to the internet.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission repealed Obama-era protections last year, and in light of this latest move, is suing California.

CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.

While battling some of the worst wildfires in California history this past summer, one group of firefighters also had another battle to fight – data plans.

The Santa Clara Fire Department accused mobile carrier Verizon of having a significant impact on its ability to provide emergency services by slowing data speed to 1/200th or less, after reaching 25 gigabytes of use.

“Throttling — meaning you reduce or restrict the data rate,” San Jose State University Computer Science Professor Melody Moh said. “Verizon actually said this is the problem of customer service. If net neutrality was not stricken down. They wouldn’t do that.”

Although Verizon insists its mishandling of the situation wasn’t about net neutrality, it’s still given fuel to net neutrality supporters, especially California, which at the end of last month signed into law new protections.

“Without net neutrality internet service, providers can play favorites among websites and can decide we’re going to charge exorbitant fees to websites,” said California State Senator Scott Wiener. “And if you don’t pay it, we either block you or put you in a slow lane, where alternatively the internet service provider can decide — hey you are competing against my own service’s news website. I have a news website, you are competing against me, I’m blocking you.”

But within hours of California’s governor signing the legislation into law, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed a lawsuit saying the federal government regulates interstate commerce, not states.

This isn’t the first time California has been a thorn in the side of the Trump administration.

Over the past 21 months, the U.S. federal government has filed three lawsuits against the state of California while California has filed more than 40, including everything from challenges to the unraveling of former President Obama’s healthcare plan to the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to lower vehicle emission standards.

The broadband industry, which has long argued net neutrality discourages investment, also just filed its own lawsuit calling California’s law unconstitutional.

“Given that Silicon Valley owns so many of the technology companies,” said Moh. “If they need to abide by the net neutrality law within California, then it’s going to impact the overall policy.”

California State Senator Scott Wiener authored the net neutrality legislation.

He said it makes little sense that the U-S Federal Communications Commission claims to have no remaining. role on net neutrality but yet wants to stop states from adopting their own rules.

“This is about making sure the internet remains open so we can go wherever we want to go on the internet and not be told by big corporations where we are allowed to go on the internet, said Wiener.

For the time being, California’s net neutrality law is slated to go into effect on Jan. 1 2019.

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