Justice Department Drops Challenge to California Net Neutrality Law
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Justice Department on Monday withdrew its 2018 legal challenge to the state of California’s net neutrality law after the Trump administration had asked a court to block it.
Under then-President Donald Trump, the Justice Department argued that federal law preempts the state statute to prohibit internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes.
The California law would reinstate those prohibitions in the state. A separate challenge to the California net neutrality law from industry is pending.
Under net neutrality, no matter what you’re connecting to — Netflix, Twitter, your personal website — an ISP has to treat them all the same.
Without net neutrality, individual ISPs can provide higher connection speeds to certain websites or throttle access to others. At the most extreme, an ISP could block access to some material altogether.
Net neutrality also means that ISPs can’t charge users access fees for particular websites, say, like Netflix, which currently accounts for roughly 20% of an Internet traffic in the United States.
Proponents of net neutrality say this is how the Internet should function.
Those who want to end it maintain all they are arguing for is freeing the internet from government regulation.
Ajit Pai, who during the Trump administration was the poster boy for killing net neutrality said that the internet needs a “light touch” without heavy government intervention into how online business develops.
In a statement, acting Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, said she was pleased by the DOJ’s action.
“When the FCC, over my objection, rolled back its net neutrality policies, states like California sought to fill the void with their own laws,” Rosenworcel said. “By taking this step, Washington is listening to the American people, who overwhelmingly support an open internet, and is charting a course to once again make net neutrality the law of the land.”
The Justice Department declined to comment.