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State Lawmaker Unveils Proposal to Preserve Net Neutrality in California

 In CBA News

Original Article by Jazmine Ulloa

A state senator on Wednesday unveiled his full proposal to restore net neutrality in California, a set of rules to prevent internet service providers from manipulating or hindering access to online content.

The latest version of Senate Bill 822 by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would bar broadband companies doing business in the state from blocking, throttling or interfering with a customer’s internet access based on the nature of the content or type of service. It also would prevent providers from varying speeds between websites, or charging customers additional fees for their services to reach more people.

“An open internet is essential to maintaining our democracy, growing our economy, protecting consumers, and preserving critical health, safety and energy services,” Wiener said in a statement. “ISPs must not be allowed to decide who can access what websites or applications.”

His legislation is one of two bills introduced by California state lawmakers this year in hopes of reviving federal net neutrality regulations. The Federal Communications Commission voted to roll back those rules in December. A proposal by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles) would task a state agency with establishing new regulations.

Wiener said he proposed his own set of rules after meeting with civil rights and privacy advocates, public policy experts, former state and federal communications commissioners and business leaders. He said he and his staff also met with leaders working to enact net neutrality in other states.

Lobbyists representing industry groups and major wireless companies — including AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint — oppose both proposals, saying state net neutrality legislation would create an uneven patchwork of laws nationwide.

Still, since the FCC vote, states and cities across the country have sought their own ways to ensure companies maintain neutral access to the internet. A governor’s order made Montana the first state to prevent companies from receiving state contracts if they interfere with internet traffic or give advantages to higher-paying sites or apps.

Washington and Oregon have put forth legislation of their own. But none go as far to establish net neutrality as the proposed California legislation because lawmakers here aim to enshrine all of the 2015 rules in state law, said Barbara van Schewick, a professor at Stanford Law School.

Wiener’s legislation also goes further, she said. It bars economic discrimination, such as zero-rated data plans, which exempt some data from counting against a customer’s data plan. It also prevents internet service providers from engaging in misleading marketing practices and paid prioritization, which occurs when a company favors certain data in exchange for compensation.

Other states “just copied some of the rules,” Schewick said.

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