A California bill that would impose the nation’s strictest state net neutrality law is being replicated in the New York state legislature.
In California, the bill was approved last month by two Senate committees despite protest from AT&T and cable lobbyists, and it needs to go through one more committee before getting a vote of the full state Senate.
The “bicoastal effort to restore the rights of an open and free Internet through net neutrality legislation” would cover nearly one-fifth of the American population if both states enact the proposed law, the California and New York state senators said in their announcement.
The California and New York bills would replicate the US-wide bans on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization that were implemented by the FCC in 2015, and they would go beyond the FCC rules with a ban on paid data-cap exemptions.
The California bill was sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). In New York, State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) said that he is introducing a bill today that includes all the key consumer protections from Wiener’s proposal.
The FCC voted to repeal its rules in December and declared that states are preempted from passing their own net neutrality rules. ISPs are almost certain to sue states to block any such laws, but local lawmakers believe they have a good shot at succeeding in court.
Washington and Oregon have already passed state net neutrality laws, but the California bill goes further than either of those laws. For analysis on possible litigation, see our previous article, “Why States Might Win the Net Neutrality War Against the FCC.”
Getting more states on board
Wiener and Hoylman will try to convince lawmakers in more states to pass legislation similar to theirs, their announcement said. If successful, the strategy could address the broadband industry’s complaint that ISPs shouldn’t have to face a “patchwork” of different state laws.
Net neutrality is essential for “the free exchange of ideas,” Hoylman said. “When the federal government fails to guarantee these basic rights, it is necessary for states to intervene and provide a platform for free expression.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo previously signed an executive order to enforce net neutrality, though it only applies to ISPs that offer service to state government agencies. New York, California, and 20 other states are also suing the FCC to overturn the net neutrality repeal order.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are trying to restore the net neutrality rules nationwide. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said yesterday that, on May 9, the Democrats will “file the petition to force a vote on the Senate floor to save net neutrality.”