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California governor resurrects Obama-era net-neutrality law, defying Trump administration

California governor resurrects Obama-era net-neutrality law, defying Trump administration
California Governor Jerry Brown has approved a bill to effectively reinstate net neutrality in the state, prompting a lawsuit by the Trump administration. The Obama-era legislation was repealed in December last year.

The bill, signed into law by the governor on Sunday, would have come into force on January 1. However, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit an hour after it was greenlighted by Brown, seeking to block one of the toughest net-neutrality laws ever to have been passed in the US.

READ MORE: Russia may scrap net neutrality principle for foreign companies to fund anti-terror law

The department will insist that regulating net neutrality is solely the responsibility of the federal government and not the state authorities, senior DOJ officials told the Washington Post. 

The lawsuit argues that the Californian legislation is “unlawful and anti-consumer,” as it imposes restrictions on telecommunications companies.

The net-neutrality rule forbids all internet providers, such as cable and telephone companies, from prioritizing their own content by slowing down or speeding up certain websites and charging more for certain services.

In December, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) moved to roll back net-neutrality regulations, which were introduced in 2015 by the Obama administration to ensure an open and free internet.

Major broadband providers supported the repeal, arguing that less rigid regulation of the market would bring more money into the industry and create a more competitive environment.

Critics of the FCC’s decision argued that giving more leeway to big telecommunications corporations like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T might result in certain content being blocked or, effectively, censored. The sweeping deregulation measure has been opposed by Democrats and the American Civil Liberties Union, which vowed to fight it in court, saying that with the FCC decision put internet users “at risk of falling victim to the profit-seeking whims of powerful telecommunications giants.”

READ MORE: Senate votes to restore net neutrality after repeal

Meanwhile, large telecommunications companies have vowed to fight back against California’s new law by taking it to court. The firms argue that the enactment of the legislation will cause a hike in cellphone and internet prices, and will stave off investment.

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