California Senate votes for stricter net neutrality laws; legislation has smooth road to passage

California Senate votes for stricter net neutrality laws; legislation has smooth road to passage
The California State Senate today voted in favor of a stricter version of the federal net neutrality regulations that are being repealed by order of the FCC on June 11th. Net neutrality forces ISPs and wireless carriers to treat all content the same. Without it, companies like Comcast and AT&T could, in theory, sell "faster lanes" to content streaming companies (think Netflix) in exchange for sacks of cash. Eventually, some of those extra payments could result in higher monthly subscription rates for consumers. Net neutrality also prevents providers from blocking certain content from reaching consumers. In theory, when the regulation is lifted next month, a cable firm could block CNN if the company's CEO doesn't like the news network's politics.

Besides replacing the original net neutrality rules that the Obama-era FCC voted in favor of in February 2015 by a 3-2 vote, the California bill would ban paid data-cap exemptions; this would prevent content providers from paying carriers to offer their streaming services to wireless users without it counting against their data caps.

All 35 votes were along party lines, with 23 Democrats voting for the bill. Net neutrality has a rather easy path to becoming law in California since it just needs to get past the California State Assembly, which has a majority made of Democrats, and get the signature of Governor Jerry Brown. Brown (who once dated Linda Ronstadt, not that it matters) is also a Democrat. A bill similar to California's SB822 is being considered in New York.

As for the federal net neutrality regulations, a Congressional Review Act (CRA) vote to overturn the FCC's order to repeal made it past the Senate by a 52-47 count (49 Democrats and 3 Republicans voted "Aye, ailing Sen. John McCain was absent). The next stop is the House, where passing the CRA will be a longshot. And even if it should get through the House, it would no doubt be vetoed by President Trump. Overturning a presidential veto would require two-thirds of both chambers to vote in favor of the CRA.

It would seem the best way to save net neutrality would be for each state to follow the examples set by California and New York. Polls show that a majority of Americans want net neutrality to remain in place.

source: ArsTechnica

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