Gov. Brown Signs Net Neutrality Bill Into Law; Justice Department Sues

October 1, 2018 Updated: October 1, 2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 822 into law on Sept. 30, which gives California internet consumers some of the strongest net neutrality protections in the United States, according to state officials.

The bill, co-authored by state Sens. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), and Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), protects consumers from being at the behest of internet service providers when using the web.

“Net neutrality, at its core, is the basic notion that we each get to decide where we go on the internet, as opposed to having that decision made for us by internet service providers,” Wiener said in a statement.

After the bill was signed into law, the United States Justice Department announced a lawsuit on Sept. 30 challenging the legality of the state bill, claiming that it violates the federal government’s deregulatory approach to internet service and inter-state commerce.

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

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai also praised the Justice Department’s suit against the state, saying in a statement that a recent U.S. appellate court ruling reaffirmed that state regulation of information services is pre-empted by federal law.

Wiener didn’t hesitate to respond to the federal lawsuit.

“We’ve been down this road before,” he said in a statement. “When (President Donald Trump) and Sessions sued California and claimed we lacked the power to protect immigrants … California won.”

The California Cable and Telecommunications Association issued a statement on Sunday evening calling the legislation unlawful and harmful to consumers.