California Lawmakers Vow to Fight Net Neutrality Rollback

3 min
State Sen. Scott Wiener (Michelle Gachet/KQED)

State Sen. Scott Wiener said he plans to introduce legislation early next year to create California's own net neutrality rules after the Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to dismantle the Obama-era regulations passed in 2015.

"We have a responsibility to push back and we're going to push back," said Wiener.

Wiener tweeted that his bill would adopt net neutrality as a requirement in California.

It's no surprise that California's elected officials condemned the FCC's 3-2 vote to roll back net neutrality regulations, which ban internet service providers from blocking or slowing down websites and prioritizing certain online content.

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Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Silicon Valley) said in a statement that she plans on co-writing an amicus brief for anticipated litigation. Santa Clara County is one of many jurisdictions and groups -- including attorneys general from several states -- which announced plans on Thursday to file lawsuits against the FCC's decision.

While the lawsuits are filed, Wiener plans to introduce legislation in January or February after state lawmakers are back in session.

KQED spoke with Sen. Wiener. This interview has been edited:

The FCC's new rules included a provision that says states cannot override the new policies. Can you lay out the path forward for California to create net neutrality laws?

We don't think that the FCC has the power to stop states from enacting our own rules. In fact, the FCC has lost that argument in court before, so we're going to move forward. California does have significant ways of impacting internet access. We regulate cable franchises. Cable companies and telecommunication companies rely on access to the public right of way for their public infrastructure.

What makes you concerned about the way internet service providers are positioning themselves?

I'm not claiming that these companies are bad actors, but ultimately they're responsible to their shareholders and if they now have the power -- which for now they do -- to charge people and websites more for faster and easier access and to have winners and losers in terms of websites, there's going to be a lot of pressure on them to make money off that.

The official dismantling of net neutrality regulations will probably take a few months. How big of a priority will this be for you during that time?

This is a high priority for me. I've already received outreach from other members of the Legislature. The president of the Senate tweeted today that he supports taking action. I think we're going to have a lot of momentum.

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