Public Knowledge Joins California Fight to Preserve State’s Net Neutrality ProtectionsOctober 1, 2020
Last night, Public Knowledge joined Access Now, Free Press, Mozilla Corporation, and New America’s Open Technology Institute in filing an amicus brief at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in the case of United States vs State of California.
The case will determine if the Federal Communications Commission can preempt California’s net neutrality law, SB 822, despite the agency abdicating its authority over broadband providers in its 2017 repeal of federal net neutrality rules. In an earlier case, the D.C. Circuit already found that by giving up its authority to regulate broadband providers, the FCC gave up its authority to prevent states from filling in the gap. California’s net neutrality law currently grants the state’s residents the strongest net neutrality protections in the nation. In their brief, the groups urge the District Court to uphold California’s net neutrality law, which is needed to protect broadband users.
The net neutrality rules created by the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order prevented broadband providers from blocking websites, throttling web traffic, or creating “fast lanes” only for those able to pay for prioritization. Millions of Americans expressed support for these rules by submitting comments with the FCC, and more than 80 percent of Americans consistently say they support restoring the protections the FCC adopted in the 2015 Open Internet Order. Chairman Pai’s FCC repealed these rules in 2017, effectively stripping Americans of these consumer protections that are so fundamental in an increasingly online world.
The following can be attributed to Kathleen Burke, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“When the FCC repealed its rules in 2017, it abdicated its authority over broadband providers by declaring that it did not have jurisdiction over them. By abdicating authority, the FCC opened the door for states to enact their own net neutrality laws in the interest of protecting consumers. And that’s exactly what California did when it passed its net neutrality law.
“Time and time again, broadband providers have engaged in harmful behavior such as throttling consumers’ internet speeds when they try to access competitors’ content and zero-rating affiliated services, which exempts particular services from data caps imposed on consumers. These practices harm consumers by eliminating or significantly reducing their access to online content services.
“By eliminating its net neutrality rules, the FCC did not restore freedom on the internet, but rather paved the way for broadband providers to limit consumers’ freedom to access the online content and applications of their choice. California’s SB 822 protects California consumers by ensuring consumers — and not broadband companies — are choosing what content and services they access.”
You may view the amicus brief. For more information on why we strongly opposed the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, you may also view our recent blog post, “Two Years Later, Broadband Providers Are Still Taking Advantage of An Internet Without Net Neutrality Protections.”