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California Net Neutrality Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk

California lawmakers have greenlit a net neutrality bill that will be the strongest government-mandated protections in the country, but are likely to wind up in a courtroom battle with the FCC.

The bill still needs Governor Jerry Brown’s signature to become law, however.

The state Senate voted to pass the legislation on Friday, a day after the state Assembly easily cleared the measure. The state Senate vote was 27-12, with all of the Democrats and one Republican voting in favor.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat, said in a statement that “when Donald Trump’s FCC decided to take a wrecking ball to net neutrality protections, we knew that California had to step in to ensure our residents have access to a free and open internet.”

Brown has not said whether he will sign the legislation.

The legislation is in response to the Republican-led FCC’s move in December to repeal many of the existing net neutrality rules, which prohibited internet providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or from selling “fast lanes” so websites and other types of content can gain speedier access to consumers.

The California legislation includes many of the FCC’s old rules, but goes even further. It prohibits internet providers from charging access fees to websites to connect to their customers, and it bans certain types of “zero rating” offerings. The latter are practices in which companies like AT&T and Verizon offer plans that do not count affiliated content against data caps.

The FCC’s repeal also included a provision preempting states from passing their own net neutrality rules, on the rationale that the country shouldn’t have a patchwork of different regulations that don’t cross borders.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that the FCC’s net neutrality rules, passed during the Obama administration, stifled investment and burdened internet providers with regulation. Republicans in the California state Senate raised similar arguments in opposing the new legislation.

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