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California’s Net Neutrality Law Causes A Law Suit From The US Government

Oregon, Washington and Vermont have approved legislation related to net neutrality, but California's measure is seen as the most comprehensive attempt.

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California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a forum in Sacramento, Calif. VOA

California Gov. Jerry Brown has approved the nation’s strongest net neutrality law, prompting an immediate lawsuit by the Trump administration and opening the next phase in the battle over regulating the internet.

Advocates of net neutrality hope California’s law, which Brown signed Sunday to stop internet providers from favoring certain content or websites, will push Congress to enact national rules or encourage other states to create their own.

However, the U.S. Department of Justice quickly moved to halt the law from taking effect, arguing that it creates burdensome, anti-consumer requirements that go against the federal government’s approach to deregulating the internet.

“Once again the California Legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

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State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, left, receives congratulations from Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, center, and Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, right, after his net neutrality bill was approved by the state Senate. VOA

The Federal Communications Commission repealed Obama-era rules last year that prevented internet companies from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet.

The neutrality law is the latest example of California, ground zero of the global technology industry, attempting to drive public policy outside its borders and rebuff President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Brown did not explain his reasons for signing the bill or comment on the federal lawsuit Sunday night.

Supporters of the new law cheered it as a win for internet freedom. It is set to take effect January 1.

“This is a historic day for California. A free and open internet is a cornerstone of 21st century life: our democracy, our economy, our health care and public safety systems, and day-to-day activities,” said Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener, the law’s author.

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks after signing a bill, March 5, 2018, in Olympia, Washington, that makes Washington the first state to set up its own net-neutrality requirements in response to the FCC’s recent repeal of Obama-era rules. VOA

It prohibits internet providers from blocking or slowing data based on content or from favoring websites or video streams from companies that pay extra.

Telecommunications companies lobbied hard to kill it or water it down, saying it would lead to higher internet and cellphone bills and discourage investments in faster internet. They say it’s unrealistic to expect them to comply with internet regulations that differ from state to state.

USTelecom, a telecommunications trade group, said California writing its own rules will create problems.

“Rather than 50 states stepping in with their own conflicting open internet solutions, we need Congress to step up with a national framework for the whole internet ecosystem and resolve this issue once and for all,” the group said in a Sunday statement.

Net Neutrality
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, center, announces the vote was approved to repeal net neutrality, next to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, left, who voted no, and Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who voted yes, at the FCC, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Net neutrality advocates worry that without rules, internet providers could create fast lanes and slow lanes that favor their own sites and apps or make it harder for consumers to see content from competitors.

That could limit consumer choice or shut out upstart companies that can’t afford to buy access to the fast lane, critics say.

The new law also bans “zero rating,” in which internet providers don’t count certain content against a monthly data cap — generally video streams produced by the company’s own subsidiaries and partners.

Also Read: President Donald Trump is a Fool When It Comes To Environment: California Governer

Oregon, Washington and Vermont have approved legislation related to net neutrality, but California’s measure is seen as the most comprehensive attempt to codify the principle in a way that might survive a likely court challenge. An identical bill was introduced in New York. (VOA)

Next Story

US States Sue Trump’s Administration for Obtaining Border Wall Funds

"Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

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FILE - Border Patrol agent Vincent Pirro looks on near a border wall that separates the cities of Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, Feb. 5, 2019, in San Diego, California. VOA

A coalition of 16 U.S. states led by California sued President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday over his decision to declare a national emergency to obtain funds for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California came just days after Trump invoked emergency powers on Friday after Congress declined to fulfill his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall that was his signature 2016 campaign promise. His move aims to let him spend money appropriated by Congress for other purposes.

“Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

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FILE – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, California. VOA

“We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states. For most of us, the Office of the Presidency is not a place for theater,” added Becerra, a Democrat.

Three Texas landowners and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s move on Friday, saying it violates the Constitution and would infringe on their property rights.

The legal challenges could slow down Trump’s efforts to build the wall, which he says is needed to check illegal immigration and drug trafficking, but will likely end up at the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court.

In a budget deal passed by Congress to avert a second government shutdown, nearly $1.4 billion was allocated toward border fencing. Trump’s emergency order would give him an additional $6.7 billion beyond what lawmakers authorized.

In television interviews on Sunday and Monday, Becerra said the lawsuit would use Trump’s own words against him as evidence there is no national emergency to declare.

ALSO READ: US Military Planes Deliver Aid to Venezuela-Colombia Border

Earlier, Trump had said he knew that he did not need to declare an emergency to build the wall, a comment that could now undercut the government’s legal argument.

“Presidents don’t go in and claim declarations of emergency for the purposes of raiding accounts because they weren’t able to get Congress to fund items,” Becerra said on MSNBC. (VOA)