The Court of Appeals supports California’s right to enforce net neutrality law


Protesters march past FCC headquarters before the Commission Meeting on Net Neutrality Proposals in Washington, DC, May 15, 2014.

Bill O’Leary Washington Post | Getty Images

The Federal Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling on Friday, allowing California to continue to enforce net neutrality law.

This decision means that while the Federal Communications Commission is stagnant without a Democratic majority, a strong state backstop will stay in place while waiting for further action in court.

Net neutrality This is the concept that Internet service providers must not identify, block, or curb web traffic. The idea was implemented at the federal level by the 2015 FCC vote to reclassify ISPs based on Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934. As a result, ISPs are now regulated as a public utility. These rules were rolled back just a few years later under the Trump administration.

Broadband providers generally oppose net neutrality through the reclassification of Title II, but states that the principle of net neutrality tends to be shared. However, this classification opens up the possibility of price regulation that threatens to discourage ISPs from investing in networks.

Net neutrality at the federal level has become a ping-pong ball between governments, but state law like California could last longer. Industry groups representing the telecommunications and wireless industries argued that California law should be prioritized by federal authorities. The lower court decided that the FCC had no relevant authority, and the Court of Appeals endorsed it. Therefore, there was no preemption.

California law already has some concrete implications. For example, after a lower court last year upheld California’s ability to enforce net neutrality law. AT & T Said not to exempt HBO Max, Owned streaming platform from data restrictions. AT & T said the law prohibits sponsoring data from customers who use wireless services, adding that “a state-by-state approach to” net neutrality “is infeasible.”

Federal net neutrality within reach

The move at the federal level could reach soon, as the Senate Trade Commission is set to vote for President Joe Biden’s committee candidate Gigi Sohn next week. If the committee positively reports her nomination, it goes to the floor for a full vote in the Senate. Republicans, and even a few Democrats, expressed concern about her past comments on conservative outlets and their involvement in a non-profit online TV service that was closed after losing a proceeding from the broadcast network. The previous vote on her nomination has been postponed.

Son Reportedly In a letter to the FCC’s legal counsel on Thursday, she said she would voluntarily refuse for the first few years of her term due to broadcast copyright and retransmission issues if she confirmed her role. The FCC did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiries regarding the letter.

Biden has revealed his interest in net neutrality through a presidential directive on competition and his decision to hire Tim Wu to the White House’s National Economic Council. Wu is said to have spread the term net neutrality.

Proponents of net neutrality are celebrating Friday’s decision in California, acknowledging future work.

“Today’s ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is a big victory for Californians and a free and open internet,” Barbara van Shewick, director of the Stanford Internet Social Center, said in a statement. “This means that California can continue to enforce net neutrality laws and protect Californians from unfair practices by businesses that pay to go online.”

“But today’s ruling is great news, but the work isn’t done,” Matt Wood, vice president of policy and legal adviser for the independent group Free Press, said in a statement. “This victory is important to protect the people of our most populous states and advance national conversations. Nevertheless, the Biden FCC is not just about national open internet rules, but to anyone. A policy that promotes a very affordable, resilient, fair and rational Internet connection. “

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBC Universal, the owner of CNBC.

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See: The 911 system is broken.Experts argue that $ 15 billion from the U.S. government may be the only way to fix it.

The Court of Appeals supports California’s right to enforce net neutrality law

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