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- The internet industry is suing California for its net neutrality law - December 10, 2019
The internet industry is suing the state of California for its day-old net neutrality law.
The lawsuit, initiated by large trading groups representing broadband companies on Wednesday, is the second major lawsuit filed against the state because of the law – the first was filed by the Department of Justice.
On Sunday evening, California’s governor, Jerry Brown, signed what is considered the strictest net neutrality law in the country. By law, internet providers are not allowed to block or delay specific types of content or applications or to charge apps or companies costs for faster access to customers.
Hours later, the federal government filed a lawsuit claiming that California was “trying to undermine the federal government’s deregulating approach” on the internet. The DOJ argues that states cannot establish their own laws for internet companies because broadband services cross state boundaries. It fights the state for a clause of the 2017 order that repeals federal net neutrality protection from the Obama era. In that order, the FCC said it could anticipate laws at the level of net neutrality at the state level.
Daniel Lyons, associate professor at Boston College Law School specializing in telecommunications and internet regulation, told CNN about the upcoming legal battle that could take many months or even longer.
There is a lot of driving on the outcome. The California law is considered the most thorough net neutrality legislation at state level that has been adopted so far, and other states are expected to use it as a blueprint for their own laws.
If California wins in court, it would open the door for those other states to take similar action. However, the FCC could try to come back with an order to block their efforts again, Lyon said.
California is likely to claim that the preference provision is invalid, Lyon said, while the federal government will try to get an order to prevent the law from coming into force. it claims that the law will cause damage if it comes into force.
“These attempts to get a provisional order appear weak and are likely to fail for the same reasons that the internet provider industry was unable to obtain a stay from the former FCC net neutrality rules in 2015,” said telecommunications lawyer Pantelis Michalopoulos, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP who has advocated net neutrality issues. “The internet providers offer speculative theories as to why they are irreparably injured. These theories do not seem to meet the test for a provisional facility.”
The industry groups participating in the new lawsuit represent large companies, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, as well as other cable companies and wireless providers in the US. The groups had previously been lobbying against state law. (CNN is owned by AT&T.)
“We are opposed to California’s action to regulate internet access because it threatens to harm services to millions of consumers and to harm new investments and economic growth. Republican and democratic governments have repeatedly embraced the idea that such actions are governed by federal law excluded, “the trading groups USTelecom, CTIA – The Wireless Association, The Internet & Television Association and the American Cable Association stated in a statement. “We will continue our work to ensure that Congress adopts two-part legislation to create a permanent framework for the protection of the open internet that consumers expect and deserve.”
Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon that the state would fight to protect its new law.
“This lawsuit has been initiated by power brokers who have a clear financial interest in maintaining their power over public access to online content. California, the country’s economic engine, has the right to exercise its sovereign powers under the Constitution and we will do everything we do to protect the right of our 40 million consumers to access information by defending a free and open internet, “said Becerra in a statement.
Senator Scott Wiener, co-author of the bill, previously told CNN that he expected the ISP’s to sue the law.
“Internet providers have the right to prosecute California, just as California has the right – indeed an obligation – to protect our residents’ access to an open internet,” Wiener said after the trade groups filed their lawsuit.
Marcus Holmes is the web developer & system administrator of Abitof News.
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