Senator Wiener’s Gutted Net Neutrality Bill Moves Forward, Allowing Negotiations to Restore Protections to Continue
Sacramento– Today the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee passed Senate Bill 822, which Senator Scott Wiener introduced to restore net neutrality in California. The version of SB 822 passed by committee today was on that had all the major protections removed from it last week in the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee. Though Senator Wiener does not support the gutted version of SB 822 passed today, he asked the Privacy Committee to move the bill forward to allow negotiations to continue regarding restoring the protections in the original bill.
Senator Wiener, along with Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), has been meeting with Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and others about restoring SB 822 so that it contains the protections found in the 2015 FCC order that were repealed under President Trump. With today’s vote by the Privacy Committee, those negotiations will continue. SB 822 must be passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee by August 17, after which it would go to the floor.
“I appreciate the willingness of the Privacy Committee to allow us the space to do the work to bring real net neutrality to California. To be clear – I will not move SB 822 forward as currently drafted, as it isn’t currently a real net neutrality bill. But by keeping the bill alive today, we can continue negotiations to restore the protections that were gutted from the bill last week. Our broad coalition of supporters have been clear both before and after last week’s vote – California must lead in the fight for the future of the internet by passing a strong and enforceable net neutrality bill. In the coming weeks, I will continue to work to come to an agreement on restoring these crucial protections so that we have a bill that I am once again proud to author.”
Senator Wiener’s version of 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.
Senator Wiener’s version of SB 822 would contain strong net neutrality protections and prohibits blocking websites, speeding up or slowing down websites or whole classes of applications such as video, and charging websites for access to an ISP’s subscribers or for fast lanes to those subscribers. ISPs would also be prohibited from circumventing these protections at the point of interconnection where data enters their networks. SB 822 would also ban ISPs from violating net neutrality by not counting the content and websites they own against subscribers’ data caps. This kind of abusive and anti-competitive “zero rating”, which leads to lower data caps for everyone, would be prohibited, while “zero-rating” plans that don’t harm competition are not banned. SB 822 will also continue to contain robust enforcement mechanisms.
During ongoing negotiations, Senator Wiener intends to restore the provisions, which were amended out of the bill last week over his objections.
SB 822 as originally drafted is supported by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, 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.
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.)