California lawmakers pass net neutrality bill

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Almost nine months after federal regulators voted to do away with net neutrality rules instituted under the Obama administration, state lawmakers are on the verge of bringing them back to California.

They sent Gov. Jerry Brown a measure allowing power companies to raise electric bills to cover the cost of lawsuits from last year's deadly wildfires, even if the utility is found to have behaved negligently.

The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn Obama-era net neutrality protections earlier this year.

But the current FCC, led by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai, repealed those regulations in June, with Pai calling them "heavy-handed".

"SB 822 is the only state-level bill that truly restores all the 2015 net neutrality protections", said Barbara van Schewick, director of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.

If the California Governor Jerry Brown passes the bill, it would prohibit internet service providers such as AT&T and Comcast from tampering with web traffic to California broadband customers, and make certain that consumers can not be charged extra for streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu. It also stops Internet providers from using some types of "zero-rating", when companies exempt certain traffic from counting against a customer's data usage. Jerry Brown that would put net neutrality regulations into state law. Brown has not publicly stated whether or not he will sign the bill, though it has broad support from state Democrats.

The bills are opposed by the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association, Entertainment Software Association, and National Electrical Manufacturers Association. AT&T owns the streaming service along with its parent, the satellite TV provider DirecTV.

Telecom industry groups and lobbyists warned the bill would be challenged in federal court.

"The internet must be governed by a single, uniform and consistent national policy framework, not state-by-state piecemeal approaches", said Jonathan Spalter, President & CEO of USTelecom, a trade group representing broadband companies.

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The legislation will now proceed to the governor's desk for a signature in the coming weeks.

In a statement from the state Senate's most recent analysis, Calderon said the state needs to create an environment that encourages entrepreneurs and innovators to develop around blockchain if it is to continue to be a "global leader in fostering innovation and new technology".

"We are committed to protecting consumers online and to preserving the open Internet", the organization said in a statement.

California would become the fourth state to pass its own net neutrality protections, but the largest and most consequential. It would have charged between 20 cents and 80 cents per phone line, replacing an existing fee that generally charges more for landlines than cellphones.

The California legislation includes numerous FCC's old rules, but goes even further.

The FCC did not reply to a request for comment. "They're still paying attention".

He said he will continue working to pass legislation next year "that best protects and celebrates the identities of LGBT Californians and a model for the nation to look towards".

The bill's passage marks the second time in three months that the most populous state has sought to regulate companies on the internet.

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