FCC chairman Pai calls California's net neutrality bill "illegal"
California State Senator Scott Wiener is known as the author of SR822. This is the bill that is a signature away from making net neutrality the law in the state of California. As a result ISPs and wireless carriers would be obligated to treat all streaming content the same. Companies like Netflix will not be able to pass a few extra bucks to AT&T and other providers to have its media streamed at a faster speed over a special "fast lane." It also blocks companies like Comcast or AT&T from blocking or throttling certain content because it doesn't jive with the CEO's personal views. And the California bill adds another kicker; it prevents streaming content providers from paying carriers to zero rate their streams.
As you might imagine, SR822 is the finger found inside the hot dog being eaten by FCC chairman Ajit Pai. Under Pai, the FCC repealed net neutrality and he probably figured that he wouldn't have to deal with it anymore. Except surveys show that the majority of Americans are in favor of net neutrality, and dozens of states have followed California in trying to make it law.
But Pai isn't having any of that. In a speech he made at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, he called out this whole idea of legislating net neutrality and said that it would prevent Californians from buying free data plans. He also stated that it would hurt low-income Americans and called California's action illegal. His theory is that since broadband is an interstate service, only the federal government can regulate it.
But allow yours truly to play Devil's Advocate for a second. Sure, no one wants low-income Americans to miss out on free streaming content. But without net neutrality, let's say Netflix pays AT&T for a special "fast lane" allowing subscribers to view video at a higher resolution. Eventually, Netflix is going to pass on the costs to subscribers. And let's say for a moment that another content provider is planning on streaming a video critical of the holder of a high ranking public office. If an ISP or carrier supports this person, without net neutrality it can block or throttle the stream.
Senator Wiener responded to Pai's comments with a lengthy rebuke of his own. Parts of both statements can be found below. As for SR822, it sits on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, awaiting his signature. He has two weeks left to sign it before the bill dies of natural causes.