State lawmakers voted to pass a bill restoring net neutrality protections Friday.
The Federal Communication Commission under former President Barack Obama passed rules prohibiting internet service providers, or ISPs, from throttling speeds, blocking lawful content and engaging in other practices considered to be in violation of the core principles of net neutrality, a concept essentially requiring ISPs to treat all web traffic equally. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs SB328, schools will have about three years to comply.
California's net neutrality debate is being closely watched by advocates around the country, who are looking to the home of Silicon Valley to pass sweeping net neutrality provisions that could drive momentum in other states or create pressure for Congress to enact nationwide protections.
The state Senate voted to pass the legislation on Friday, a day after the state Assembly easily cleared the measure.
The legislation will now proceed to the governor's desk for a signature in the coming weeks. Other states have already passed bills or put executive orders in place related to net neutrality.
California could become the fourth state to approve net neutrality regulations if Brown signs the bill.More news: Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham joins Aston Villa on season-long loan
In June, the state adopted an internet privacy law, the first in the nation.
In June, the FCC under President Donald Trump repealed rules adopted during the Obama administration that barred internet service providers from blocking content or charging more for access, a move meant to establish a more level playing field or "net neutrality".
Earlier this summer, the FCC formally revoked net neutrality regulations. Consumer groups, however, argued that the rules were vital to protect users at a time when internet providers are focused on buying up media companies and establishing Facebook-like businesses that mine user data for advertising purposes.
Pai's critics have launched a multi-pronged effort to reverse that move, filing lawsuits in federal court, demanding a congressional vote to overrule the FCC and pushing for state legislation - such as California's.
"Strong and effective net neutrality standards must include protections against zero-rating, which ultimately harm consumers by giving ISPs an unfair advantage against competitor products", he says.
The Assembly's vote followed months of intense lobbying from internet companies, which warned that it would lead to higher costs. "And they're not going to let their elected officials get away with selling out their constituents by siding with big telecom companies", said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a non-profit consumer advocacy group.