Federal appeals court upholds California’s Net Neutrality Act

A panel of judges at the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit voted 3-0 to reject an industry challenge and uphold the California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018. The Court ruled that because the FCC changed the classification of internet services from telecommunications to information services, it cannot preempt states from enforcing their own net neutrality rules. 

In 2019, a similar ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the Pai FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules. At the same time, the court ruled that states can pass their own net neutrality laws and sent portions of the repeal -- concerning public safety, service providers’ use of public rights-of-way, and the federal Lifeline program -- back to the FCC for reconsideration.

The DC Circuit and 9th Circuit court rulings follow years of activity to protect an open Internet. In 2015 the Wheeler FCC adopted strong net neutrality rules. Those rules reclassified broadband as a telecom service and prohibited blocking, slowing, and any favorable treatment of websites. In 2016, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Wheeler rules over a challenge by the broadband industry. Then, in 2017, the Republican FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai rescinded the 2015 rules, eliminating virtually all open Internet protections. That brings us to this latest ruling. 

Links:

Appeals court upholds California’s net neutrality law (The Verge, Jan. 28, 2022)

U.S. appeals court upholds California net neutrality law (The Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2022)

DC Circuit upholds Pai FCC’s net neutrality repeal, allows states to pass their own net neutrality laws (Speed Matters, Oct. 7, 2019)