back to article The ink's not dry on California'a new net neutrality law and the US govt is already suing

Within minutes of California signing a net neutrality bill into law on Sunday, the US Department of Justice sued the state claiming the new legislation is illegal. And so begins the latest bout in a battle over internet access that has been running for five years and is likely to last five more. "In this action, the United …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I wish California well in this battle. Hopefully other States will join in with their own legislation. Obviously, the US Congress is unable to see past their own noses and the noses of their parties, so it's time the locals did some grass roots movements and start challenging the feds for NOT following the will of the people who elect them.

    Yes, it'll be a long hard battle but I wish the States well in this.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      You mean, they are unable to see past the noses (and brown envelopes) of their corporate sugar daddies.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Holmes

        See past their noses?

        All they would see would be corporate arseholes.

  2. Charles 9 Silver badge

    While it IS true that consumers hate their communications companies, the problem is whether or not consumers hate their governments even more and decide that bedding with the comms companies is the lesser of two evils (after all, comms companies can't throw you in prison).

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: comms companies can't throw you in prison ...

      ... yet, but when they want such power Pai will grant it to them.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: comms companies can't throw you in prison ...

        I don't recall any part of the Constitution that permits the government to grant imprisonment powers to a private party. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

  3. martinusher Silver badge

    The future doesn't need Net Neutrality

    There was a recent article about AT&T's plans for the 5G rollout and, in particular, what tariffs they were planning for it. As you can imagine during the early stages of the rollout prices will be relatively high for early adopters and then 'competitive'. However, once the technology matures we're going to see the spectrum sliced and diced in ways that make buying airline (or, in the UK, train) travel seem a walk in the park. Obviously implementing this kind of revenue management requires quite close control of what traffic goes into what tariff bucket so Net Neutrality needs to go. End users -- 'consumers' -- will be told that its all in the pursuit of 'customer choice' and I daresay there will be the inevitable articles about how some bright young things get an amazing deal by deft manipulation of packages (a bit like trying to buy reasonably priced energy in the UK). But for most of us we just prepare to get screwed. As usual.

    Personally, as a Californian I welcome Net Neutrality. If Jeff Sessions wants to make the argument that cross border traffic can be sliced and diced, so be it. I prefer my traffic unfiltered.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: The future doesn't need Net Neutrality

      The problem is, without net neutrality, you won't get new services or be able to select the service you want, you will be stuck with the services your provider can strike the most profitable deal with.

      I'd rather stick with a cheap 10GB open plan and chose which services I want to use, rather than have a 2GB plan, but "unlimited" streaming of services I am not interested in.

      I currently get 10GB LTE data for 30€, including unlimited calls and SMS. It is a little expensive, I'm shopping around for a better deal, but that is the 10GB I can chose what I want to use it for.

  4. LDS Silver badge

    Why companies can regulate interstate commerce, and States cannot?

    Without net neutrality, you can't have a free interstate commerce. Companies will be able to regulate and set policies about what and how goes in and out their networks, and at what price. What if a regional provider makes some services outside its area more expensive?

    So once again their pretending to defend the Constitution while they are actually breaking it fully.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Why companies can regulate interstate commerce, and States cannot?

      "Companies will be able to regulate and set policies"

      proof, please, or else this is just FUD.

      "pretending to defend the Constitution while they are actually breaking it fully"

      /me facepalms at the ignorance and FUD. see icon.

      Jerry Brown and his "successor" are a major problem in this state. Do you think that this is ACCIDENTAL, 2 months before an election that will attempt to replace "2nd Time Around" Brown with someone even WORSE??? (yeah I'm voting for Cox)

      Brown and his cronies in Sack-of-who-knows [Sacramento] have been forcing socialism onto Cali-Fornicate-You for a LONG time, with little or no opposition. They have funding from Silly Valley zillionaires and George Soros. Surely you recognize that THESE people aren't working in YOUR best interest, right?

      If you want to talk about 'corporations' running things, I suggest starting with the Demo[n,c][R,r}at "machine" that's already in place. It's all there, and extremely obvious if you look at it.

      Jerry Brown has gone against the feds on MANY things since Trump was elected. I'm glad the feds are calling him on it. For the liberals would say "Federal law supercedes state law" for those things that are convenient, such as Obaka-"care", but when it comes to controlling 'teh intarwebs' and potentially taxing the HELL out of it [as mentioned earlier], they claim 'states rights'.

      Hypocrisy takes many forms. And I'm voting for COX to try and put a STOP to this insanity!

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "proof, please, or else this is just FUD"

        Proof will come soon, don't worry, and you'll pay the price. The Constitution was written to endow citizen - all citizen - rights against a too powerful minority willingly to use it at its own advantage only. It could be an authoritarian state, or a company with too much power - there's no difference between them.

        You can have fully working state without that pesky regulation called a Constitution, and hope for the best (usually, it ends in a bad way), just like you can have a market without regulations - it usually ends in a bad way too.

      2. Criminny Rickets
        Joke

        Re: Why companies can regulate interstate commerce, and States cannot?

        bombastic bob wrote: "If you want to talk about 'corporations' running things, I suggest starting with the Demo[n,c][R,r}at "'

        TROLL, There's a troll in the comm... oh wait, this isn't Harry Potter... Carry on.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Why companies can regulate interstate commerce, and States cannot?

          TROLL, There's a troll in the comm...

          Bob's just a Billy Goat who comments with a Ouji board.

      3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Why companies can regulate interstate commerce, and States cannot?

        "Brown and his cronies in Sack-of-who-knows [Sacramento] have been forcing socialism onto Cali-Fornicate-You for a LONG time"

        And somewhere that was basically agrarian and extraction industries into the 1930s is now one of the world's major economies all on its own, so by that argument socialism is successful in at least one country.

        Perhaps California should secede and start a trade bloc with South Korea.

        1. Big John Silver badge

          Re: Why companies can regulate interstate commerce, and States cannot?

          > "...so by that argument socialism is successful in at least one country."

          You mean the "long time" argument? I don't see a number there, and having lived in Cali from the early sixties I can attest that it wasn't a socialist paradise up until fairly recently. California's wealth was built by Capitalism, and now Socialism is parasitizing that wealth. But eventually the mistake is self-correcting, as we see in Venezuela today. Too bad about all the collateral damage tho...

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Why companies can regulate interstate commerce, and States cannot?

            "I can attest that it wasn't a socialist paradise up until fairly recently."

            Um, does the phrase "California Emissions" ring a bell, and I heard it a lot when I was a kid in the 80's, and pretty much only stopped hearing it when the federal government's emissions regulations caught up to California's...decades later.

        2. I&I

          Re: Why companies can regulate interstate commerce, and States cannot?

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partition_and_secession_in_California

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Why companies can regulate interstate commerce, and States cannot?

        Hypocrisy takes many forms

        @BB - I won't argue with your expertise on that subject..

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Why companies can regulate interstate commerce, and States cannot?

      "Without net neutrality, you can't have a free interstate commerce. Companies will be able to regulate and set policies about what and how goes in and out their networks, and at what price. What if a regional provider makes some services outside its area more expensive?"

      Exactly this. The outcome of abolishing net neutrality will become akin to granting the individual States the right to control their own borders and introduce tariffs on imports and exports. Or charging out-of-State trucks an entry fee if they want to drive at the posted limits instead of being restricted to half the posted speed limits.

  5. IceC0ld Bronze badge

    Republican Michael O'Rielly was dead set against: "California’s net neutrality effort reaffirms its leaders’ total lack of understanding of how technology or our economy actually works,

    ====

    this in regards to the state that ALONE is the WORLD'S 5th largest economy

    1. Grikath Silver badge

      Only if you count Silicon Valley...

      And I do remember a kerfuffle or two about "some" companies formally residing in CA, but being dead-set about being taxed like actually residing in CA ( or anywhere else, for that matter...) . Let's start with the Alphabet, and work down the letters....

      The rest of CA can't even manage to pay for its roads..

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        The rest of CA can't even manage to pay for its roads..

        that's because it's propping up the welfare state and the state employee union's demands.

        and continuously they BEG for more, DEMAND more, and it's always "for the children". Or in the case of what proposition 6 is trying to stop, increasing registration fees and gasoline taxes to "pay for the roads" so they can divert the funds into buying more votes later on, and then BEG FOR EVEN MORE, "oh it wasn't enough" [when they'd have PLENTY of money if they stopped giving illegal aliens and the state employee unions 'free everying'].

        I know someone who works for the state of Cali-Fornicate-You in a management position. I've been told that it's ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to fire someone who's totally incompetent, insubordinate, shows up late all of the time, goofs off at work, etc. etc. etc. and way too many people will strive for that 'cushy gummint job' to get the retirement benefits, barely working etc. so they have to HIRE EVEN MORE PEOPLE to compensate for inefficiency amongst the ranks. Yeah THERE's your problem...

        That, and benefits for non-citizens [particularly for the ILLEGAL variety]. Clean that up and they can balance the budget and start CUTTING TAXES.

        "think of the children" - for REAL this time!

      2. kain preacher Silver badge

        Ahem that's discounting California agriculture business. California feeds great deal of America.

        1. kain preacher Silver badge

          `Oh I left out Oilo. California produce more oil than Alaska. It's the number 3 oil producing state .

  6. h1248f

    Meanwhile, my government signed net neutrality into law back in 2014 after an official complaint by the local Internet Assoc. was sent to the Ministry of Communications about ISPs blocking/throttling VoIP and P2P traffic to the point of being unusable - way back in 2009. (the MoC is basically our equivalent of the US FCC)

    This law forces any ISP to treat traffic in an equal manner.

    there are only 3 situations where net neutrality is overridden:

    1. An explicit written request by subscriber or group of subscribers to the ISP/MSP

    2. Authorization by the Minister of Communications

    3. Court order

    All I'm gonna say this to Californians: Good Luck! (you're gonna need it)

    Oh, and did I mention that we don't use data caps on home broadband connections?

  7. W Donelson

    Everything the GOP does is for bribes and campaign money

    Trump is jettisoning all parts of America that don't contribute campaign bribes. Period.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Everything the GOP does is for bribes and campaign money

        "http://www.gopusa.com/christine-blasey-ford-and-the-links-to-george-soros/"

        How about also citing Breitbart, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise whatever and a few other Koch organs? (I gather Der Sturmer is having a few publication issues).

        Bob, on IT stuff you sometimes make good sense and I have upvoted you. On politics you're a deranged conspiracy theorist with little idea of how things work in the real world. Stick to the day job.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The current FCC is 3 guys in clown suits and two neutered cats - such is the state of our national government. And Jeff Sessions still uses AOL and 2400 baud modem that his secretary has to turn on for him.

  9. DougS Silver badge

    I don't see how the feds win this

    California's law basically says "the state of California will only purchase services from ISPs that adhere to net neutrality for all customers residing in the state of the California". They aren't trying to force AT&T et al to have net neutrality in Texas and Alabama. For the feds to block this they basically have to get a court to agree that the federal government should control what states spend their own money on.

    The only way I see them doing that is not via the DOJ and courts, but via the 'power of the purse' similar to what they did back in the 80s to force states to have the 21 drinking age etc. - saying "if you don't do what we want, we will withhold federal money". In that case it was federal highway money, In this case presumably it would be something the FCC can control like universal service funds.

    I'm not sure if the FCC disperses enough federal funds into California for them to care though, so the administration would have to threaten to withhold money that has nothing do with the issue at hand. i.e. threaten to withhold federal highway money, limit military spending to California based companies, or something like that. That would be some uncharted territory, indeed.

    1. ratfox Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: I don't see how the feds win this

      If only it was easy to know what's legal and what's not legal. It looks like they specifically tried to make the law immune to lawsuits from the federal government, but I suppose the Department of Justice wouldn't start such a lawsuit if they thought they have no way to win.

      I find terribly annoying that it takes months if not years of legal posturing and appeals to get answers.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: I don't see how the feds win this

        It would be far from the first time the DOJ started a lawsuit knowing they had no chance to win. The administration in power at the time controls what the DOJ will challenge, and they are unlike a private citizen who wants to know he has a chance to win before spending a lot of money on lawyers.

        The reason they will sue even knowing a loss is almost certain is because they will ask the court for a stay on the law while the case is being decided for those months if not years you're talking about. They will hope that prevents other states from following in California's footsteps, and perhaps gives them a chance to have congress act to prevent this (i.e. by passing a law withholding federal money from states that do this)

  10. toejam13

    States' rights!

    Republicans do like to champion the idea of states' rights when the opposition party has control of the federal government. Interesting how that completely disappears when they are in charge of the federal government and have an issue with a state passing a law they disagree with.

    Hypocrites.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: States' rights!

      Just like they only care about the deficit when they are the opposition party.

    2. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: States' rights!

      You beat me to it on this one.

  11. doublelayer

    Legal basis

    I'm having trouble with the federal government's arguments. I would think that, while the constitution/federal law can tell the states they must or must not do something, the FCC's removal of regulations on companies wouldn't count as doing that. For example:

    Federal government: You must not allow people to buy uranium.

    State: Citizens can buy uranium here.

    Court: Sorry, state, the federal government told you that you can't do that.

    Federal government: We don't care how much ethanol is in gasoline, as long as it is safe.

    State: If you want to sell gasoline here, you have to include a specific amount of ethanol. Also, it must be safe.

    Court: The government didn't say you couldn't do this, so that's fine.

    Federal government: We are retracting our previous rules, so now the network companies don't have to adhere to any net neutrality regulations.

    State: They have to inside California.

    This sounds like the ethanol example. Maybe I haven't seen the relevant part of the regulations, but I don't remember their saying that states must not restrict things further.

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Legal basis

      Add another string to that bow, last time I looked, the California Public Utilities Commission was regulating businesses with a (intrastate) presence in this state, whether or not they operate as an interstate business. Not that this matters much. Just the fact that the State of California is declaring which firms they will do business with and no others is our look out not the federal governments.

      Indirectly, it'll be just as interesting around how this applies to Verizon's fuckup during our last batch of wildfires.

  12. Uncle Ron

    Hypocrisy

    Totally separate from the merits of this case (whether or not NN is a good idea,) the hypocrisy of the Right in the US is breathtaking. When it suits the interests of their overlords (big corporations and the rich) they espouse the values of "state's rights," and state and local control of as much government as possible. The hidden agenda here is that state and local governments are much easier to manipulate (ie, "bribe,") they border on incompetence in many important matters, and are much less transparent and accountable to constituents. But whenever a legitimate "state's rights" issue goes against the interests of the Right, they are immediately in there to fight against it. In fact, the Right universally campaigns on telling voters that they will "get Washington off your back," and "Washington is the enemy," and "Washington wants to get in your pocket." The Right in America has become a pawn of the above mentioned corporate and wealthy interests, and totally and completely devoid of any other ideology. Total hypocrites.

  13. Winkypop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Pai in the sky

    So the corollary would be:

    The law encourages ISPs to block or slow online content. It also makes it legal for ISP to favor certain websites – apps, services – and to take money to prioritize a specific company's content.

    Seems legit, not!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legal bassis

    For all of you folks that say the feds can not do this or have no legal basis you are wrong. California tried to cap the fees the banks could charge . Feds stepped in and shut them down

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Legal bassis

      There's a catch. Banks are covered directly by the federal government under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act. Credit Unions are similarly covered by the National Credit Union Administration. Point is, banks and credits unions are directly under the federal umbrella (thus why bank robbery is a federal offense).

      Communications is not as clear-cut an issue or cable companies would've already been under the full auspices of the Federal Communications Commission (broadcast networks already are because airwaves are allotted by the fed), but their oversight of cable companies is more limited: mostly down to ensuring coverage of those same broadcast networks and so on. The feds are claiming all communication is "interstate" by default, but that hasn't been tested in court so can still be challenged, particularly with more evidence that significant communications aren't interstate in nature (like local phone calls and intrastate transactions with communications companies).

  15. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Well done Kieren

    From the previous comments you've hit the bullseye with this line.

    >>>In short, just as this bill signing and legal challenge became foreseeable months ago, so it appears equally predictable that net neutrality will be pulled down into the pitched-hell that surrounds American debates over gun control and abortion.<<<

    Unfortunately it's lots of other subjects as well and not just in America.

    Polarised opinions preventing a generally acceptable compromise is normal these days. The 20thC. experiment in representative democracy seems to be closing down and returning to vested interests of money & power.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Well done Kieren

      IOW, the poker tournament's starting to wind down. And people wonder why I call capitalism "winner economics". Laws in the end are just ink on a page. Someone with enough power can ignore them or cast them aside.

  16. Keith Langmead

    Pot, meet kettle

    "Under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce – the federal government does. Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy… We have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order."

    Wonder where they learnt that from... replace interstate with international, and California with USA and you'd pretty much sum up what the USA keep trying to do globally.

  17. DDearborn

    Hmmm

    The bias against states rights even in this article is palpable. (read "rights" to be anybody other than the "Federal" read centralized base of power and the people that run it)

    The fall back position of the US Federal Government in these cases has always been the "Supremacy Clause" Before you all go back to sleep, I humbly suggest you read the Entire Constitution and Bill of Rights. It is not long and for the most not terribly complex. I implore anyone with more than a passing interest to take some additional time to read some of the writings of the Founding Fathers who wrote it. What the Constitution and Bill of Rights actually state, along with the clear intentions of those that wrote them is in this day and age almost ALWAYS DIFFERENT that what the Congress, White House the Courts of our government are telling to sell us. This case is sadly no different......

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "What the Constitution and Bill of Rights actually state, along with the clear intentions of those that wrote them is in this day and age almost ALWAYS DIFFERENT that what the Congress, White House the Courts of our government are telling to sell us. This case is sadly no different......"

      But at the same time, perspective changes. For example, would the Founding Fathers be so liberal with the Second Amendment if they KNEW that there would soon be handheld firearms capable of single-handed massacres in seconds? What about near-instant communications media? Better knowledge of human psychology and pliability? A country extending from coast to coast and with influence around the world? I strongly suspect they knew they couldn't predict the future (thus why Article V and the amendment process). I just think they had no way to picture just how...far the human condition could be capable of stretching.

  18. Aedile

    One of the parts of the CA law I found interesting is that it actually doesn't out right ban zero-rating. Instead if says the ISPs can zero rate classes of data but not specific programs/apps/companies. For example AT&T could zero rate streaming music as a class but it can't zero rate Tidal alone.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Up the rebels!

    Could see another civil war developing here!

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