State Assembly Passes Net Neutrality Bill

SACRAMENTO — Earlier today, the State Assembly passed Senate Bill 822 to advance a net neutrality framework in California. SB 822, authored by Senator Scott Wiener and co-authored by Assemblymember Santiago and others, was approved by the Assembly on an initial 59-18 bipartisan vote.

“Today, we advanced the strongest net neutrality legislation in the nation,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “SB 822 is a crucial step towards ensuring that we have a free and open internet that doesn’t discriminate or price users or content differently. This is a big win against the Trump Administration’s destruction of the internet.”

Santiago added, “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.“

SB 822 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.

“Today’s vote is a huge win for Californians everywhere,” said Senator Wiener (D- San Francisco) author of SB 822. “The internet is at the heart of 21st century life – our economy, our public safety and health systems, our democracy – and we must protect it. The core premise of net neutrality is that we get to decide where we go on the internet, as opposed to telecom and cable companies telling us where to go. We have just one final vote left to go to get the strongest net neutrality protections in the nation passed out of the Legislature and onto the Governor’s desk. We will take nothing for granted, but we have momentum and the support of a broad and diverse coalition that understands the importance of a free and open internet for everyone. I want to thank all my colleagues for supporting and working with us on this vital piece of legislation.”

The measure contains strong net neutrality protections and prohibits 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. Moreover, SB 822 bans ISPs from violating net neutrality by not counting the content and websites they own against subscribers’ data caps.

SB 822 will return to the Senate in the next few days for a vote to concur in Assembly amendments. The measure has until Friday, August 31st to meet final legislative approval and move to Governor Jerry Brown for consideration.

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