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DOJ Sues California After State Signs Net Neutrality Into Law

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Oct 1, 2018, 7:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on Sunday that made net neutrality the law, but the state was quickly sued by the U.S. Department of Justice. The net neutrality bill, approved by California's legislature last month, had been sitting on Brown's desk for several weeks awaiting approval. Once the law goes into effect January 1, 2019, internet providers will have to obey strict rules governing web traffic. For example, there can be no blocking, no throttling, and no paid fast lanes. The Trump administration, which dismantled the FCC's net neutrality rules earlier this year under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, fired back at the Golden State. According to the Justice Department, California's action "unlawfully imposes burdens on the Federal Government's deregulatory approach to the internet." Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that individual states cannot regulate interstate commerce, which is how the DoJ and FCC view internet services. "The California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy," noted Sessions. The FCC's Pai lauded the lawsuit. "I'm pleased the Department of Justice has filed this suit. The internet is inherently an interstate information service. As such, only the federal government can set policy in this area. Not only is California's internet regulation law illegal, it also hurts consumers. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Department of Justice to ensure the internet remains 'unfettered by Federal or State regulation,' as federal law requires, and the domain of engineers, entrepreneurs, and technologists, not lawyers and bureaucrats." Pai's FCC tore down net neutrality rules despite wide public support for those rules. Pai's actions were seen as a win for internet companies such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon.

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