Everything you need to know about California’s tough net neutrality bill

California State Senator Scott Wiener

A bill that would ensure net neutrality for California residents is making its way through the state legislature.
If passed, California would have the strongest net neutrality protections in the country.
The bill go further than the original 2015 net neutrality rules put in place by the FCC by banning anti-competitive zero-rating programs.

California may soon have strongest net neutrality protections in the country.

A bill making its way through the state legislature would guarantee California residents net neutrality, which prevents Internet Service Providers from blocking or slowing down traffic to particular applications or websites.

The Golden State is one of several US states working to create such safeguards after federal rules protecting net neutrality were repealed in December.

If the bill passes, California would be one of three states — along with Washington and Oregon — that have passed individual net neutrality laws. California’s bill would also be the toughest of the three.

In fact, California’s rules would go further than even the original FCC guidelines.

Here is everything you need to know.

How is the California bill different?

California’s net neutrality bill would, if passed, prohibit ISPs from blocking or slowing down particular websites. It would also ban ISPs from charging websites fees to reach customers. But what makes the bill go further than the original FCC regulations and other state laws is the prohibition of so-called zero-rating.

Zero-rating is the practice of letting customers access certain websites or applications without it counting against their monthly data cap. That sounds like a good thing. But consumer groups say that when zero-rating plans are used to promote services owned by the broadband providers, or by companies that pay the providers to market them, they are akin to fast lanes — they give preferential treatment to favored websites, and make smaller, independent sites less desirable.

While the California bill doesn’t ban all zero-rating altogether, it does ban anything that is anti-competitive or favors one website or application over another. For example, plans that would exempt Netflix and not Hulu from data caps wouldn’t be allowed. But exempting all traffic between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. would be.

Zero-rating programs weren’t specifically barred under the now-defunct net neutrality protections, they were reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Late in the Obama administration, the FCC opened up an inquiry to see if they violated the general conduct provisions. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai ended that inquiry after he took over as head …read more

Source:: Business Insider

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