California passes own net neutrality law, Justice Department sues

The FCC signed the Restoring Internet Freedom Order late last year and began to enforce in June. It removed regulations on internet service providers requiring the equal treatment of traffic with no blockage or paid expedited access to certain content. The rules also were proclaimed to be precedent over any state law regarding net neutrality.

And yet, states have been working on passing net neutrality laws in response to the FCC. The state of Washington has one and, just this weekend, California signed its own bill. However, just as quickly, the Justice Department has sued the state, saying that SB 822 “unlawfully imposes burdens on the Federal Government’s deregulatory approach to the Internet.”

“I’m pleased the Department of Justice has filed this suit,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “The Internet is inherently an interstate information service.  As such, only the federal government can set policy in this area.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also claims that the federal government’s determinations supersede those of the state.

“Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy,” Sessions’s statement said. “The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order.”

The California law, considered one of the toughest in the nation either enacted or proposed, bans the blockage, paid prioritization and zero-rating quid pro quo of traffic for end users and pass-through companies like content providers. It does allow for the zero-rating of traffic for an entire category of content, applications, services or devices.

State Senator Scott Wiener, the Democrat from San Francisco who authored SB 822, released a statement on Twitter vowing to fight the Justice Department.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.