California State’s ‘Net Neutrality’ Law Prompts Federal Lawsuit

October 1, 2018 Updated: October 1, 2018

The Trump administration has sued California state over a new law that imposes ‘net neutrality’ rules on the internet.

The lawsuit filed on Sept. 30 by the U.S. Department of Justice came roughly an hour after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the law.

The Federal Communications Commission last year repealed controversial rules to that were introduced to regulate internet traffic for ‘fairness.’ The rules sought to avoid situations where internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast give priority to websites based on their commercial arrangements.

Net neutrality advocates worry that without rules, internet providers could create fast lanes and slow lanes that favor their partner sites and apps or make it harder for consumers to see content from competitors. That could limit consumer choice or shut out upstart companies that can’t afford to buy access to the fast lane, proponents of net neutrality say.

But critics of the net neutrality approach say that the regulations will lead to higher internet and cellphone prices as upgrades in infrastructure will be required to provide the necessary bandwidth for fast internet speeds.

The lawsuit argues that California’s approach is “unlawful and anti-consumer” because it imposes burdensome regulations on the Internet and goes against the federal government’s approach of deregulating the internet.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will defend the federal government’s position.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Sunday in a statement that “states do not regulate interstate commerce — the federal government does. Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy.”

California’s net neutrality law is set to take effect on Jan. 1, but the Justice Department late Sunday in a court filing sought a preliminary injunction to block it from taking effect, warning that internet companies “cannot realistically comply with one set of standards in this area for California and another for the rest of the nation — especially when internet communications frequently cross multiple jurisdictions.”

The federal government warned “the effect of this state legislation would be to nullify federal law across the country.”

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