Trump administration sues California over newly-signed net neutrality law

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Ajit Varadaraj Pai

San Francisco– US President Donald Trump’s administration has sued the state of California in an effort to strike down its new net neutrality law, signed only hours earlier by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.

Among 34 bills signed on Sunday afternoon, Brown approved the nation’s toughest net neutrality protections, setting up a legal fight by bringing back Obama-era internet regulations the federal government repealed about nine months ago, reports USA Today.

The Justice Department filed its lawsuit on Sunday night, arguing Senate Bill 822 interferes with the federal government’s deregulatory approach to the internet.

“The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Three states – Oregon, Washington and Vermont – passed their own net neutrality bills ahead of California, though none of them were as strict.

The California law prevents broadband providers from slowing down or blocking websites, as well as charging higher fees for faster speeds.

It also limits some zero-rated data plans.

The bill’s sponsor, state Senator Scott Wiener called Sunday a win for an open society, USA Today said.

“While the Trump administration does everything in its power to undermine our democracy, we in California will continue to do what’s right for our residents,” Wiener said.

“Net neutrality, at its core, is the basic notion that we each get to decide where we go on the internet, as opposed to having that decision made for us by internet service providers. It’s also about ensuring a level playing field for ideas and for businesses trying to compete.”

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai voiced support for the federal lawsuit.

Identifying the internet as a interstate information service, the Indian-origin lawmaker said only the federal government can set policy for it.

In January, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra pushed back against the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, along with 21 other states.

The California legislature moved the bill to the governor’s desk on September 11.(IANS)

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