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California’s Senate passes net neutrality bill

Gov. Jerry Brown has until the end of the month to sign the bill

Photo (c) ANNECORDON - Getty Images
On Friday, California's Senate approved the “gold standard” of state-level net neutrality protections. The measure, called SB 822, passed by a 27-12 vote after having been passed Thursday by the State Assembly by a similarly large margin.

"We passed the strongest net neutrality standards in the nation," San Francisco Democrat Scott Wiener, who co-wrote the bill, said in a statement.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has until the end of September to sign the bill. If enacted, California would become the fourth state to create a net neutrality law since the FCC scrapped net neutrality regulations last year. The bill in California is widely considered to equip consumers with the most stringent protections.

"This is about a level playing field and an Internet where we as individuals get to decide where we go on the Internet instead of being told by Internet service providers, or manipulated by Internet service providers, into going where they want us to go," Wiener said.

What the bill does

The bill prohibits internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or throttling lawful traffic. It also bars the practice of charging websites for access to an ISP’s subscribers or for fast lanes to those subscribers.

SB 822 also prevents ISPs from getting around these protections at the point where data enters their networks and from charging access fees to reach ISP customers. Additionally, the bill prevents companies like AT&T (which is both an ISP and a content provider) from not counting the content and websites they own against subscribers’ data caps.

“When Donald Trump’s F.C.C. decided to take a wrecking ball to net neutrality protections, we knew that California had to step in to ensure our residents have access to a free and open internet,” Wiener said in a statement.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that supports online privacy, called the bill’s advancement "a victory that can be replicated." Weiner expressed similar sentiments, noting that he hopes California’s potential new net neutrality rules can be rolled out at a national level.

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