Net Neutrality Advocates Call for Senate to Pass SB 822 to Protect an Open Internet in California

Senator Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 822, which restores Obama-era internet protections, has been called the strongest state-level net neutrality proposal in the country
May 29, 2018

Sacramento–  Today net neutrality supporters and state legislators rallied in the Capitol to call for the State Senate to pass Senate Bill 822, which will re-instate Obama-era net neutrality regulations in California. The State Senate must approve SB 822 by June 1, after which it will go to the Assembly. 

At the rally, SB 822 author Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) was joined by co-authors of SB 822 and representatives from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, California Labor Federation, Color of Change, Internet Creators Guild, and the Writers Guild West, who all spoke about the importance of having strong net neutrality protections.

Also in attendance at the rally were representatives from American Sustainable Business Council, TURN – The Utility Reform Network, Color of Change, Greenlining Institute, Digital Deployment, Founder Academy, CALPIRG, Pacific Community Solutions, Credo Mobile, Center for Media Justice, ADT Alarm Company, Consumers Union, Voices for Progress, Common Cause, Oakland Privacy, Internet Creators Guild, Indivisible, Intex Solutions, DeportIce, White Hat (Cal Poly SLO), and Computer Using Educators. These organizations spent the day meeting with legislators about the importance of passing SB 822.

The press conference can be viewed here. State Senate could take up SB 822 as early as today.      

SB 822 has been gaining broad support, including from Attorney General Xavier Becerra, former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and from a coalition of state leaders, public interest groups, labor organizations, social justice advocates, small businesses, start-ups, internet service providers, California mayors and local governments, and tens of thousands of California residents. For a full list of supporters, see the fact sheet here.

Recent support for SB 822 has included organizations that represent working people and low-income people, including labor groups and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
The Western Center on Law and Poverty wrote in a letter:

Without the protections contained in SB 822, low-income Californians would see even further disparities in their access to the Internet. This would disproportionately harm rural communities and communities of color.

The California Labor Federation, UFCW, SEIU California, the Teamsters, Unite Here and more labor organizations wrote in a letter:

The effect of this [net neutrality repeal] could be disastrous; the possibilities for discrimination and oppression could be endless. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) could legally discriminate against workers organizing, for example, by simply cutting off access to pro-union websites, as happened in Canada when Telus did exactly that to an independent site expressing support for affected workers.

“Net neutrality impacts everyone in our state, and we need to do everything we can to ensure that the people of California can decide for themselves whether, when and for what purpose they are using the internet,” said Senator Wiener. “I’m proud to stand today with so many great organizations advocating for consumers, workers, businesses, and low-income people, all of whom are fighting for net neutrality. Working together we can re-instate the Obama-era internet regulations that will help us to preserve an open internet. I look forward to taking this bill up on the Senate floor this week.”

SB 822 establishes brightline rules around fast lanes and zero rating, and charges the Attorney General with enforcing these rules. These net neutrality standards will ensure that all California residents have the right to choose whether, when, and for what purpose they use the internet. SB 822 is supported by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, and a broad coalition of state leaders, public interest groups, labor organizations, social justice advocates, small businesses, start-ups, internet service providers, California mayors and local governments, and tens of thousands of California residents. For a full list of supporters, see the fact sheet here:

SB 822 is co-authored by Senators Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), Connie Leyva (D-Chino), Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), and Assemblymembers Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), and Phil Ting (D-San Francisco.)

At its core, SB 822 stands for the basic proposition that the role of internet service providers (ISPs) is to provide neutral access to the internet, not to pick winners and losers by deciding (based on financial payments or otherwise) which websites or applications will be easy or hard to access, which will have fast or slow access, and which will be blocked entirely.

Specifically, SB 822 prohibits any practice that hinders or manipulates consumer access to the Internet to favor certain types of content, services, or devices over others. This includes prohibiting all of the following: blocking or speeding up or slowing down of favored data, paid prioritization, charging services (whether businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, advocacy organizations, etc.) access fees to reach certain consumers, and economic discrimination practices that distort consumer choice.

SB 822 also prohibits misleading marketing practices and enacts strong disclosure requirements to better inform consumers. SB 822 requires that any ISP that contracts with the State of California, receives public infrastructure grants to build out broadband service, or applies for or holds a state franchise for video service must comply with these standards.