It’s been a tough fight, with one near-fatal stumble, but California’s assembly just passed what are undoubtedly the strictest protections for net neutrality in the country–if not the world. After what supporters hope will be a perfunctory re-vote in the state Senate, the bill will go to Governor Jerry Brown, who has 30 days to sign or veto it.
SB822, originally drafted by San Francisco state senator Scott Wiener, was a direct response to the FCC’s repeal of its own Open Internet Order from the Obama years. Wiener sought to fold the provisions of that massive document into a manageable set of provisions that busy legislators–hardly telecom experts–could wrap their heads around. California was not the first state to pass a bill in the wake of the FCC repeal on December 14, 2017 (which officially took effect on June 11), but its comprehensive approach puts it far ahead.
Washington State led the effort with a bill, passed on February 28, that lays out the broad outlines of network neutrality: internet service providers may not block any legal content, slow down (a.k.a. throttle) the delivery of any legal content, or speed up content for providers that pay more. (States like Vermont and Oregon have followed with similar bills.) It’s a solid set of wholesome principles–and likely as complex a bill as could pass in Washington State’s meager two-month legislative season. But the devil is the details, which regulators will have to work out during implementation.