California sends net neutrality bill to governor's desk

California sends net neutrality bill to governor's desk

"This bill is not just important for consumer protection, it is fundamental to free speech so that people can receive and send the information they choose and connect with others without interference", said Kevin Baker, legislative director for the ACLU of California.

The Assembly's vote followed months of intense lobbying from internet companies, which warned that it would lead to higher costs.

That would essentially restore the net neutrality rules enacted federally under former President Barack Obama, which were later repealed by the Federal Communications Commission under the watch and guidance of current chairman Ajit Pai.

Earlier this summer, the FCC formally revoked net neutrality regulations. The net neutrality bill that its sponsor Scott Weiner calls "the strongest in the nation" got the necessary votes this evening despite opposition from groups representing ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

California legislators signed off on Senate Bill 905, which will now head to Governor Jerry Brown for final approval.

"Consumers expect a single, national approach to keeping our internet open, not the confusing patchwork of conflicting requirements passed today, Jonathan Spalter, president & CEO the broadband industry group USTelecom, said in a statement". Brown has not publicly stated whether or not he will sign the bill, though it has broad support from state Democrats.

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Six Republicans joined almost all Democrats in supporting the legislation.

The bill prohibits ISPs from throttling or blocking online traffic, and prioritizing select websites or services over others, with these rules applying to both home and mobile internet connections.

That could limit consumer choice or shut out upstart companies that can't afford to buy access to the fast lane, critics worry. In June, the measure appeared to hit a sudden snag when a key Assembly committee voted to strip out its toughest language - provisions that were restored two weeks later amid pressure from activists.

It also would ban so-called "zero rating", in which internet providers don't count certain content against a monthly data cap. This would put an end, for example, to AT&T's unlimited data if you use DIRECTV NOW.

Net neutrality has been a major policy issue in particular for smaller tech companies, which say they stand to be disadvantaged by special commercial partnerships that internet providers could seek with large, established firms such as Google, Facebook and Netflix.

Internet service providers say that zero-rating provides value to their customers and should be allowed.

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