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Radio News: Broadband industry so far failing to overturn California's net neutrality

Apr 24, 2022 11:33 pm

Jon Brodkin reports for Ars Technica that so far, net neutrality has been a policy that depends on which way the political winds are blowing. Net neutrality is the principle that an internet service provider has to provide access to all sites, content, and applications at the same speed, under the same conditions, without blocking or giving preference to any content. The Federal Communications Commission voted for federal net neutrality rules in 2015 when Democrats had a majority of the board, and repealed the even-playing-field-for-the-internet policy in 2017, when Republicans had the majority. Now Democrats hold the presidency and Congress, but Republicans are blocking their nomination for the deciding-vote fifth FCC member. So at the national level, Democrats cannot restore net neutrality with Republicans current blocking tactics. But, after the Republicans rolled back net neutrality regulations in 2017, Democrats passed net neutrality rules in California, and Republicans have been trying ever since to reverse that vote. But the broadband industry can't find a judge among the 29 on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to take on their case to overturn net neutrality. "It is notable that not a single judge on the nation's largest court of appeals even asked for a vote on the industry's rehearing petition," Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior counselor for the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel agreed, writing on Twitter, "This is big. Because when the FCC rolled back its open Internet policies, states stepped in. I support net neutrality and we need once again to make it the law of the land." ACA Connects (formerly the American Cable Association), CTIA-The Wireless Association, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, and USTelecom are trying to overturn net neutrality in California, but so far have failed. The reason the industry so badly wants to get rid of net neutrality there is that California is so large, that often if a company is forced to change a policy there, they do so nationwide. AT&T, for instance, ended across the country its "sponsored data" program in which it charged online services for data cap exemptions after California instituted net neutrality. AT&T said it ended the program nationwide because "the Internet does not recognize state borders." So far, the broadband industry representatives have gotten a February 2021 oral ruling against a preliminary injunction to block net neutrality from District Judge John Mendez, who said, "I don't find that the plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits at this stage of the litigation." Read more about this story at Ars Technica.