What’s Going on With California’s Net Neutrality?

Trina Stroedecke
Technology Editor

First off, what is Net Neutrality? Network Neutrality, often referred to as Net Neutrality, is a principle or regulation that forces Internet Service Providers, ISPs, to treat all Internet communications equally. With net neutrality, ISPs cannot charge different amounts to consumers depending on their online content use. Without Net Neutrality, ISPs have the power to block or slow down service on certain websites, platforms, or applications, and charge higher rates in order to provide users with faster loading times.

This map provides state stances on Net Neutrality (Photo courtesy of NARUC)

In 2015, the first order to follow Net Neutrality regulations was passed in California by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In 2017, the FCC repealed this regulation, reestablishing zero-rating, and allowing data sponsorship programs. The court ruled that the Net Neutrality Act was an “overreach of authority”. Since then, the order has been reinstated and has subsequently become a state law, which was passed in 2018. This law restricted ISPs from blocking or slowing down content in order to charge higher tiers for better service.

Ever since 2018, several states have joined California in introducing similar bills. Vermont, Oregon, Washington, and New Jersey have enacted legislation that limit what an ISP can charge. After the FCC stated the regulations that must be followed in a Net Neutrality state law, 34 states as well as the District of Columbia have passed over 120 bills regarding to net neutrality.

Many people have argued that there are more underlying issues than the net neutrality legislation covers, Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick believe to truly solve this problem, ISPs that should eliminate data caps entirely for consumers. If ISPs are eliminating these data caps, the costs could be lowered, and unlimited service plans for online providers could become the new norm.


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