9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules against telecom industry in California net neutrality case

The court ruled against the telecom industry and California's net neutrality law is now enforceable.

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The 9th Circuit of Appeals upheld a court’s decision to enforce the strongest net neutrality legislation in the nation. California net neutrality law SB 822 “bars telecom companies from blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, abusing their gatekeeper power in interconnection, or engaging in ‘zero ratings.'”

The court ruled against the telecom industry and California’s net neutrality law is now enforceable.

“In this case, of course, the FCC has not adopted any regulatory measures,” the court continued. “It has instead diminished its authority to regulate by its reclassification of the service providers to a relatively unregulated category under the Communications Act. There is thus no conflict between the state’s enactment of SB-822 and the FCC’s order.”

According to the 3-0 ruling on Friday, the FCC killed federal rules in 2017 and left the issue to the states therefore, “only the invocation of federal regulatory authority can preempt state regulatory authority… by classifying broadband internet services as information services, the FCC no longer has the authority to regulate in the same manner that it had when these services were classified as telecommunications service.”

“This decision is a huge step forward, but the California law had an impact even before it cleared this latest court hurdle,” Matt Wood, vice president of policy and general counsel for Free Press, which filed an amicus brief supporting the state, wrote in a statement via email. “Industry lobbyists and other net neutrality opponents have argued, loudly but cynically, that the repeal of the FCC’s rules had no impact. But the passage of this strong state law meant ISPs still had to respect open-internet principles even before this latest victory because they knew their stall tactics in the Ninth Circuit were likely to fail, as they now have twice.”

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