The Impact of California’s New Internet Regulation

Recently, the California Senate voted to restore net neutrality statewide. The bill, S.B. 822, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D–San Francisco), was introduced in March and passed through three committees, all along party-lines. The bill was approved 23–12 and will now head to the state Assembly.

After the Trump administration removed the federal FCC guidelines regarding net neutrality, it was thought that would be the end of the matter. However, due to Reserved Powers of the states, we have actually seen states take matters into their own hands. Due to Reserved Powers of the states, as long as something isn’t a federal law, individual states have full discretion to pass their own legislation regarding an issue. This is exactly what we have seen California, and numerous other states, do in regards to net neutrality.

Many prominent internet protection organizations, such as the The Electronic Frontier Foundation, are hailing this most recent legislation as “(the) gold standard for states looking to protect net neutrality.” The bill also takes the original rules further by specifically banning providers from participating in some types of “zero-rating” programs, in which certain favored content doesn’t contribute to monthly data caps.

Current HW students who have been highly impassioned on the issue can now rest easy, knowing they are protected. However, for the newly graduated Senior Class who will be heading across the country to different states, net neutrality prospects might not be as good. However, for students going out of state, all hope is not lost. California, after all, was not the first state to pass new internet protection regulations for consumers. Washington and Oregon were the first, and their legislation highly influenced California. So, although California wasn’t the first state, the hope is that because we are the largest and one of the most influential states, other states may soon follow after seeing the success we have here.

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