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California Assembly passes state net neutrality law

By
Ed Adamczyk
A protester's sign indicates support of net neutrality at a Washington, D.C., rally on December 14, 2017. The California Assembly passed sweeping net neutrality legislation on Thursday. File.Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
A protester's sign indicates support of net neutrality at a Washington, D.C., rally on December 14, 2017. The California Assembly passed sweeping net neutrality legislation on Thursday. File.Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 31 (UPI) -- California State Assembly passed a sweeping net neutrality law prohibiting Internet providers from discriminatory practices.

The law is in response to the Federal Communications Commission's move to repeal rules mandating equal access and delivery of the Internet. Similar legislation has been proposed in 30 states, with Oregon, Vermont and Washington enacting laws. Governors in six other states have protected net neutrality by executive order, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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The California proposal passed the Assembly 59 to 18 on Thursday. A Senate vote is expected next week. It would then go to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown for signing. The bill prohibits Internet providers from blocking or slowing traffic, or from selling faster access to consumers.

It also prohibits Internet providers from charging access fees to websites to connect to their customers, and zero rating of specific apps, a practice that allows for the use of some services, but not others, without counting toward a subscriber's data allotment. The latter practice could be advantageous to large-scale Internet users, businesses that could benefit from potential special treatment.

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"The Trump administration destroyed the Internet as we know it, plain and simple," Miguel Santiago, a Democrat who co-authored the bill, said during floor debate. "We have an opportunity in California to lead this nation by voting yes for this bill."

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The Assembly bill gained momentum after it was reported that Internet provider Verizon slowed the speed of the Santa Clara County Fire Department's data as it fought wildfires, hampering communications between firefighters.

Verizon referred to the incident as a customer service mistake, adding that it had "nothing to do with net neutrality."

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