Updated Aug. 31, 9:10 p.m.
Gov. Jerry Brown will decide whether California should create the nation's strongest net neutrality rules, defying the Trump administration.
A bill passed Friday by the state Senate would seek to regulate internet service providers after a roll-back of federal rules.
The bill largely mirrors the net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration, which were repealed in June by the Federal Communications Commission. The measure bars internet providers from speeding-up, slowing down, blocking, prioritizing or exempting from data caps one company’s web content to advantage a competitor’s.
“Today’s bill is the strongest net neutrality bill in the nation,” said Democratic Asm. Miguel Santiago during debate in the Assembly. Santiago presented the bill for vote two months after clashing with its author.
Proponents say the bill will force Internet providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to protect free competition between web companies, while opponents — also acknowledging the measure’s significance — argue it will raise costs and constrain innovation.
“This bill enacts the harshest regulation on Internet of any state in the country,” said Republican Asm. Jay Obernolte.
Despite intense lobbying by AT&T and other internet providers, the measure passed overwhelmingly, with an initial vote of 58-17, with Democrats and some Republicans supporting it.
The vote came a week after California firefighters revealed in court documents that Verizon had slowed their data access while they fought the state’s largest wildfire.
Should Brown sign the measure, it will certainly face legal challenges arguing it usurps federal powers.
On Friday, lawmakers are expected to vote on a companion measure, in case such a legal challenge succeeds. That bill would bar public agencies in California from contracting with large Internet providers who do not incorporate net neutrality principles, as laid out by this measure.
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