California might become the U.S. state with the strictest net neutrality law.
On Friday, state lawmakers voted to pass a bill that proposes to stop internet providers from charging higher fees to websites for a better connection, and it also precludes “zero rating” - when a provider doesn't count certain content against a customer’s data usage. The proposal will now be sent over to Gov. Jerry Brown, who will either veto the bill or approve it by September 30.
While the legislation has been supported by several consumer advocacy groups, small businesses and some technology companies (including Sonos, Etsy and Reddit), it has been criticized by Internet providers including Comcast and AT&T who feel that the rules might actually lead to a hike in prices for consumers. An AT&T spokesperson said the scrapping of zero rating “could lead to an increase of $30 a month on the bills of low income Californians and the ban on interconnection fees could lead to a reduction in investment in California by more than $1 billion a year," while also suggesting that they support an open internet but are skeptical of the proposed legislation.
"The internet must be governed by a single, uniform and consistent national policy framework, not state-by-state piecemeal approaches," said Jonathan Spalter, President & CEO of USTelecom, a trade group representing broadband companies. He also mentioned, "Governor Brown should use his veto pen on this legislation, and Congress should step in to legislate and provide consumer protections that will resolve this issue once and for all."
The legislation is at odds with the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission’s vote earlier this year for revoking the Obama administration's net neutrality protections.