Now that the Federal Communications Commission has voted to overturn net neutrality rules, California lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday that seeks to make sure the internet remains open and free for users in their state.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, introduced S.B. 822, a bill that would require telecommunication companies that do business in the state to guarantee equal access to the internet for everyone, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Wiener—whose bill follows similar efforts in the states of Washington and New York—announced his bill via Twitter on Wednesday.
“Today, as the Legislature reconvenes, I’m formally introducing legislation to adopt #NetNeutrality in California. We will protect a free and open internet in our state. We won’t let the FCC undermine our democracy,” he wrote.
In a press release, Wiener said: “Net neutrality is essential to our 21st-century democracy. We won’t let the Trump-led FCC dismantle our right to a free and open internet, and we won’t let them create a system where internet providers can favor websites and services based on who pays more money.”
Wiener’s bill would rely on state Public Utilities Commission regulations that govern telecommunication companies to enforce net neutrality rules.
From the Chronicle:
According to a draft, that would include making net neutrality a requirement of cable franchise agreements, state consumer protection laws and the “state-granted right to attach small cell or other broadband wireless communications devices to utility poles.”
The bill would also require the state to buy internet services from companies that practice net neutrality.
The FCC has not yet announced its final ruling on net neutrality, but it is expected that the ruling will include a clause that pre-empts state-enacted net neutrality rules.
Tejas Narechania is an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and a former FCC special counsel who focused on net neutrality issues. He told the Chronicle that the last time the FCC tried to pre-empt state laws in a case involving restrictions on high-speed internet services in North Carolina and Tennessee, a federal appeals court in 2016 ruled in favor of the states.
Worth noting in that case: The same Ajit Pai who pushed to repeal net neutrality last month argued against the FCC asserting its dominance over state laws in 2016.
“There’s an argument to be made that the FCC doesn’t have the pre-emption authority it claims, especially because the FCC now has to clear a pretty high bar,” Narechania said in an email to the Chronicle.
Wiener believes that his state needs to take action now.
“While a lot is happening with lawsuits, state bills and potential congressional action, California can’t sit by and wait for something to possibly happen,” he said. “We have control over our own fate, and we can enact smart regulations to protect net neutrality right here. If something happens to fix this issue nationally, that’s great news.”
Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle.