California Net Neutrality Bill Lives On, Takes Step In Assembly

A “gold standard” net neutrality bill in California that was “eviscerated” in a legislative committee last week remains alive, and this week even took a step forward toward a vote by the full state Assembly. But the bill’s author says that if key provisions that were removed in committee are not restored, he will kill the bill on his own.

“To be clear, if the bill ultimately remains in its current form, I will withdraw it, as I have no desire to pass a fake net neutrality bill,” San Francisco Democratic State Senator Scott Wiener, who wrote the original SB 822 net neutrality bill, told The Los Angeles Times. “But my sincere hope is that we will be able to amend it in the near future back into a strong form. For today’s hearing, I simply want the current version to move forward in order to continue working on it.”

The California Assembly’s Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee voted 8-2 on Tuesday to send the bill to the Appropriations Committee, after a hearing in the state capital in Sacramento where both internet industry representatives and open internet advocates spoke on the bill, according to The San Francisco Chronicle

As reported, Communications and Conveyance Committee Chair Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles removed pieces of the bill that net neutrality advocates say were essential to maintaining equal access to internet data pipes for all content providers, from individuals to large corporations.

Among the provisions stripped from the bill by Santiago were a ban on “paid prioritization,” a practice which allows internet service providers to charge premium prices to sites for access to an internet “fast lane,” while smaller providers who lack the resource to pay see their data slowed or shut off.

Santiago, who has received about $60,000 in campaign cash from large telecommunications corporations—the same companies that provide the bulk of Americans with their internet access—said on Monday that net neutrality supporters have harassed him and his family online as a result of his cuts to the SB 822 bill.

Wiener on Tuesday said that he was “working with” Santiago to “restore the protections that the committee removed.”

Unless Wiener withdraws the bill, it must now pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee and from there, will go to the full Assembly for a vote, likely by the end of August. SB 822 passed the state Senate in California on May 31.

A net neutrality bill in Rhode Island is running into similar problems with a bill passed the state Senate there now being blocked from a vote in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Oregon, Washington and Vermont are the only three states to have passed net neutrality legislation since the Federal Communications Commission ended Obama-era net neutrality rules on June 11.

Photo by Credo Action / Wikimedia Commons