Capitol Alert

California joins lawsuit to restore net neutrality rules

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, 20 other states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday sued the Federal Communications Commission to restore net neutrality rules.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenges the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality last month. The commission’s repeal paved the way for internet service providers to charge websites fees for faster internet speeds and to slow down or block other sites.

“Internet access is a utility – just like water and electricity,” Becerra said in a prepared statement. “And every consumer has a right to access online content without interference or manipulation by their internet service provider. However, in repealing the net neutrality rules, the FCC ignored consumers’ strong support for a free and open internet.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai led the effort to repeal Obama-era rules that barred companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from favoring some sites and applications over others. Pai said in December that ending those rules would lead to a “free, more open internet.”

Becerra said the FCC’s actions also limit the ability of California and other states to impose their own net neutrality requirements.

In California, Senate leader Kevin de León introduced a bill earlier this month to preserve net neutrality rules in the state. And on Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats said they are one vote shy of passing a measure to block the FCC’s repeal.

Dane Jasper, CEO of Santa Rosa-based internet service provider Sonic, said in a statement that he supports Becerra’s decision to join the lawsuit against the FCC.

“Between this and recently introduced legislation in the state Legislature, it’s clear that California is making up for where the federal government has fallen short,” Jasper said. “As we’ve said before, Sonic will always remain net neutral, whether the regulations require it or not, but we’re pleased to see our home state move forward in a direction that supports consumers and protects their right to have a fair and open internet.”

California is impacted greatly by the repeal of net neutrality, Becerra said.

“A free and open internet drives innovation, economic growth and consumer choice. As home to countless start-ups and technology giants alike, California knows this better than anywhere else,” Becerra said. “We will do everything we can to defend our vibrant internet economy and consumer choice from the FCC’s attempt to curtail net neutrality.”

Billy Kobin: 916-321-1860, @Billy_Kobin

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