California Net Neutrality Proposal Moves Forward

August 8, 2018

Sacramento – Today Senators Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) moved forward their legislative effort to restore Obama-era net neutrality protections that were eliminated by Donald Trump’s Federal Communications Commission. Yesterday, SB 822 (Wiener) and SB 460 (De Leon) were amended to restore key protections that had been removed from the bills, as well as to join SB 822 and SB 460 into one legislative package. The versions of these bills now moving forward reflect the agreement made with Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) that, if passed, will give California the strongest net neutrality rules in the country. Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) was also involved in the work to restore the bills’ protections.

This agreement was announced at a press conference on July 5, the last day before the Legislature went into recess. These amendments were formally introduced on August 7, and are now in print here (SB 822) and here (SB 460.)  Both bills have until August 31 to be approved by the Legislature. The Governor then has 30 days to sign the bills. SB 822 is pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and SB 460 is pending in the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee.

“Preserving an open internet is essential to maintaining our democracy and protecting consumers,” said Senator Wiener. “California can and should lead the way in restoring the net neutrality protections that were repealed by Donald Trump’s FCC. As we move into the final weeks of the Legislative session, I’m proud to be part of a broad and growing coalition of grassroots leaders and organizations that believe people – not corporations – should be able to choose for themselves where they go on the internet. We are going to pass these bills and bring net neutrality to the residents of California.”

"In today’s digital world, the internet is critical to free speech, economic justice, and the integrity of our democracy,” said Senator de León. “We will not allow the profits and political interests of extremely wealthy corporations to outweigh the public interest in a free and egalitarian internet.  That’s why California will fight tirelessly to secure the strongest net neutrality protections in the nation, with or without Washington, D.C."

“This is the making of a people-powered movement to sustain a free and open internet. In California we have the strongest net neutrality legislation in the country.” said Assemblymember Santiago. “Trump’s FCCs destruction of the internet makes the fight for net neutrality more important than ever. Our democracy depends on it, and our progressive values demand it.”

"California has taken the lead in crafting the strongest net neutrality laws in the country,” said Assemblymember Bonta. “As a co-author of Senate Bill 822, I’m proud to be part of our fight to ensure equal, fair, and open access to the Internet for every California resident. The Internet is an indispensable part of our lives and it should never be inappropriately restricted.”​

The net neutrality proposal put forward in SB 822 and SB 460 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.

SB 822 contains 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 will also be prohibited from circumventing these protections at the point where data enters their networks and from charging access fees to reach ISP customers. SB 822 will 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 consumers are not banned.

SB 460 focuses on requiring ISPs that enter into state contracts to adhere to net neutrality principles. This provision ensures that public entities only expend taxpayer funds on contracts with ISPs that comply with California’s comprehensive net neutrality protections.

SB 822 is supported by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, former Obama 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.

Senator Wiener and Senator de Leon are joint authors of SB 822 and SB 460, and Assemblymembers Santiago and Bonta are co-authors of both bills. SB 822 is also 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), Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside), David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Monique Limon (D-Santa Barbara), Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), and Phil Ting (D-San Francisco.) 

SB 460 Bill text:

SB 822 Bill text: