California lawmakers pass stiffest net neutrality law in US

Friday was a day of celebration for net neutrality proponents, as California's legislature approved a bill that, once passed into law, is widely seen as the strongest protection in the country. Jerry Brown, the new law would set up a legal fight with federal regulators who rolled back Obama-era internet rules this year. If signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, it would ensure all California broadband customers have equal access to content on the internet.

In addition, it would prohibit internet providers from collecting fees from apps and sites in order for them to reach users. SB 822 is the only state-level bill that truly restores all the 2015 net neutrality protections. The bill needs only Senate concurrence, or agreement with Assembly revisions, before heading to Brown's desk too - but that must happen by midnight on August 31, the final day of the legislative session. Not only doubling down but improving on previous measures, the legislation would protect consumers from being charged extra for access to websites and provide consistent speeds and quality for streaming services. Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman appointed by President Donald Trump, pitched the repeal as a way to stop the federal government from "micromanaging the internet".

Utility workers would get protections for their jobs, salaries, benefits and pensions as part of a measure allowing California power companies to raise electric bills to cover the cost of lawsuits from last year's deadly wildfires.

Net neutrality has been a major policy issue in particular for smaller tech companies, which say they stand to be disadvantaged by special commercial partnerships that internet providers could seek with large, established firms such as Google, Facebook and Netflix.

If the bill becomes law, some of Silicon Valley's biggest corporations might have to make changes. Many fear the "cabelisation of the internet" that would occur under the absence of net neutrality.

Now that it has passed the California State Assembly, SB822 moves on to the State Senate where it should have no difficulty passing. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also called it "a gold standard net neutrality bill". 1906 by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D), won a final vote of 48-14 in the Assembly Aug. 30 to accept Senate amendments.

Internet providers also argue it could lead to higher prices for consumers. "They're still paying attention".