Senator Wiener to Introduce Net Neutrality Legislation in California

December 14, 2017

San Francisco – Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced plans to introduce legislation to establish net neutrality protections in California after the Federal Communications Commission repealed national Net Neutrality regulations.  Senator Wiener will introduce the legislation in January, when the State Legislature returns for session in Sacramento.

“Net Neutrality is essential to our 21st century democracy, and we need to be sure that people can access websites and information freely and fairly,” said Senator Scott Wiener.  “If the FCC is going to destroy Net Neutrality and create a system that favors certain web sites just because they can pay more money, California must step in and ensure open internet access in Californians.”

In February 2015, the FCC created a Net Neutrality order which reclassified fixed and mobile internet providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. This prevented improper discrimination of certain web sites or services by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Today, the FCC eliminated this order, giving ISPs the authority to manipulate internet traffic in their networks, including by blocking access or slowing down traffic to certain web sites. It is also passed rules to attempt to preempt states from regulating network neutrality and broadband privacy.

Currently California does not have its own regulations on Net Neutrality – we have deferred to the federal rules. Senator Wiener’s legislation will establish net neutrality regulations in California. There are strong arguments that states have the right to protect internet access. 

“The FCC completely abandoning its responsibilities to protect the free and open Internet will go down as one of the biggest mistakes in Internet policy history,” said Ernesto Falcon, Legislative Counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “In light of the complete absence of federal protections, we absolutely must have state laws fill the void on both privacy and network neutrality.”

“ISPs shouldn't be able to pick winners and losers online, or give their own services an unfair advantage over their competitors,” said Emily Rusch, Executive Director of CALPIRG. “If Congress won't protect net neutrality nationwide, then California should use its considerable influence to protect its own residents.”

“As the epicenter of technological innovation, California has a special responsibility to ensure that the internet remains free and open” said Nicole Ozer, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Director for the ACLU of California. “Now, more than ever, Californians expect their policymakers and technology leaders to protect access to the internet, information, and the truth. The future of a free and open internet – and our democracy – depends on it.”