Senators Wiener and De Leon and Assemblymembers Santiago and Bonta Announce Agreement on California Bill with Strongest Net Neutrality Protections in the Country
SACRAMENTO — Today, California legislators announced a deal to move forward a proposal to restore Obama-era net neutrality protections that were repealed under Donald Trump’s Federal Communications Commission in early June. Senate Bill 822, introduced by Senator Wiener (D-San Francisco) earlier this year, was amended two weeks ago in the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee. Since then, Senators Wiener and de Leon (D-Los Angeles), and Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) have worked to craft a strong and enforceable net neutrality proposal.
Today, the legislators announced an agreement on bill language that will ensure California enacts strong, comprehensive, and enforceable net neutrality reflecting what was repealed by the FCC last year. This agreement includes key original concepts in Senator Wiener’s SB 822, including a ban on fees to access internet service provider customers, ensuring net neutrality is not circumvented/evaded at the point of interconnection, and prohibiting discriminatory and anti-competitive zero-rating services. In addition, Senator de Leon’s SB 460 will be amended to ensure that companies entering into state contracts abide by net neutrality principles. As previously announced, SB 822 and SB 460 will be joined so that the two move forward together and complement one another.
These amendments will be formally introduced and put in print in the coming weeks. The bills have until August 31 to be approved by the Legislature.
“After Donald Trump’s FCC obliterated net neutrality, we stepped in to protect California residents and businesses and to ensure an open internet,” said Senator Wiener. “For months, we have worked with a broad coalition to pass strong and enforceable net neutrality protections. As internet service providers and media companies like AT&T and Time Warner consolidate, net neutrality is more important than ever. I want to thank my colleagues Senator de Leon, Assemblymember Santiago, and Assemblymember Bonta for working with us to ensure that California moves forward a bill with strong net neutrality proposal that will protect California consumers and set the standard for pro-internet efforts throughout the country.”
“This President and his Administration have made it clear that in today’s America, only some of our freedoms are secure,” said Senator de León. “Here in California, we believe a free and open internet is vital to our democracy and our way of life, which is why we are fighting so hard to preserve Net Neutrality. After weeks of vigorous debate and negotiations, I am proud to stand with my colleagues, Senator Wiener, Assemblymember Santiago, and Assemblymember Bonta to advance the strongest Net Neutrality protections in the nation. If Donald Trump won’t stand up to powerful special interests to protect consumers, the State of California will.”
“In the aftermath of Trump’s destruction of the internet, we are advancing legislation with the strongest net neutrality and consumer protections in the nation. California leads the fight for a free and open internet that doesn’t discriminate or price users or content differently” said Assemblymember Santiago. “The fight for social change and progressive values is directly tied to a free and open internet. Citizens United, the Janus decision and now the threat of a Supreme Court nomination under Trump makes this Net Neutrality legislation more important than ever. It is essential to our Democracy and the future of our movement powered by people.”
The net neutrality proposal put forward in SB 822 and SB 460 stands for the basic proposition that the role of internet service providers (ISPs) is to provide neutral access to the internet, not to pick winners and losers by deciding (based on financial payments or otherwise) which websites or applications will be easy or hard to access, which will have fast or slow access, and which will be blocked entirely.
Under this agreement, SB 822 will contain strong net neutrality protections and prohibit blocking websites, speeding up or slowing down websites or whole classes of applications such as video, and charging websites for access to an ISP’s subscribers or for fast lanes to those subscribers. ISPs will also be prohibited from circumventing these protections at the point where data enters their networks and from charging access fees to reach ISP customers. SB 822 will also ban ISPs from violating net neutrality by not counting the content and websites they own against subscribers’ data caps. This kind of abusive and anti-competitive “zero rating”, which leads to lower data caps for everyone, would be prohibited, while “zero-rating” plans that don’t harm consumers are not banned.
SB 460 will be amended to focus on requiring ISPs that enter into state contracts adhere to net neutrality principles. This provision ensures that public entities only expend taxpayer funds on contracts with ISPs that comply with California’s comprehensive net neutrality protections.