State Senate Passes Senator Wiener’s Net Neutrality Bill

Senate Bill 822, which restores Obama-era internet protections, now moves to the Assembly for consideration
May 30, 2018

Sacramento–  Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) bill to restore net neutrality passed the California State Senate today, moving California closer to re-instating the net neutrality protections put in place by the Federal Communications Commission under President Obama in 2015. These protections were repealed by the FCC under President Trump in December.

Senate Bill 822 passed by a vote of 23-12. It now moves to the Assembly for consideration. Assembly committee hearings begin in June, and the bill must be voted out of the Assembly by the end of August.

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.

“Today the State Senate took a huge step towards re-instating net neutrality in California,” said Senator Wiener. “When Donald Trump’s FCC took a wrecking ball to the Obama-era net neutrality protections, we said we would step in to make sure that California residents would be protected from having their internet access manipulated. I want to thank the enormous grassroots coalition that is fighting tooth and nail to help pass SB 822 and protect a free and open internet. We have a lot more work to get this bill through the Assembly, but this is a major win in our fight to re-instate net neutrality in California.” 

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.   

SB 822 language: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB822

SB822 Fact Sheet (including list of supporters): http://sd11.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd11.senate.ca.gov/files/sb_822_net_neutrality_fact_sheet_5-22.pdf

SB 822 Press Conference video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_F3ByhHLS4&feature=youtu.be&t=04m08s