On Wednesday, Sen. Scott Wiener unveiled the newest version of SB 822, the strongest state-level net neutrality bill in the country. Once gutted beyond recognition, SB 822 was brought back to life in early July after massive public pressure from the diverse coalition supporting restoring these protections to Californians. The bill now goes back to the Assembly’s Communications and Conveyance committee which needs to approve it before a vote in the Assembly in mid-August.
The new version contains all of the core protections of the 2015 Open Internet Order. Once passed, it will set the standard for legislatures across the country. SB 822 ensures that giant telecoms that want to control how we use the internet can’t do so by closing known loopholes and preventing unfair fees. But ISPs like AT&T and Comcast have been pouring millions of dollars into defeating SB 822, deploying a battalion of lobbyists, paid-off front groups and fake economic studies. The outcome of this battle for an open internet is far from clear.
To hold Assemblymembers accountable, Fight for the Future is unveiling a public scorecard that lists each of the 80 Assemblymembers position on SB 822, along with their phone numbers and Twitter handles. Californians can visit the scoreboard to see where their representative stands on the issue and can contact them directly from the scoreboard.
See the scoreboard here: https://www.battleforthenet.com/california
Lawmakers who have not joined as co-authors or publicly committed to voting for SB 822, in full, are marked as being against net neutrality.
When Assemblymember Miguel Santiago gutted the bill in June, FFTF crowdfunded more than $15,000 to put up billboard in his district. Asm. Santiago quickly realized his error and is now a co-author of the bill, which we thank him for. However, we pledged to those who donated that we would use that money to put billboards in other districts of lawmakers who stand in the way of SB 822. We will target billboards on those who vote no, hope to abstain from voting or who do not commit to protecting our online rights – including those lawmakers who think their seats are so safe they can afford to appease AT&T and Comcast.
California legislators who are contemplating double-crossing their constituents on net neutrality should consider whether they really want to be known forever online as California’s Ajit Pai.
Fight for the Future issued the following statement, which can be attributed to Deputy Director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):
In July, we applauded Assemblymember Miguel Santiago for changing his mind on SB 822. But the massive online outcry that led to his conversion should be a warning to the rest of the Assembly: don’t mess with net neutrality unless you’re prepared to feel your constituents’ wrath. California assemblymembers won’t get a second chance and they need to decide immediately to either side with the public or be willing to pay the price for catering to big telecoms.
SB 822 will prevent Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast from turning the internet into a playground they control and using their monopoly power to interfere with what apps, services, websites and devices we choose to use. The protections against discriminatory zero rating schemes are especially essential for low-income Californians, who are disproportionately affected by low data caps, and who would be forced to experienced a second-class Internet where their ISP chooses what they are most likely to see, how they stream video, and where they get their news.
Strong net neutrality protections are essential for a functional democracy. The open Internet is one of the most important tools we have for challenging injustice and tyranny. The stakes are high and what happens in California will have an impact on Internet users everywhere. We will make sure that SB 822 passes the Assembly with all key protections intact, and that those who stand in the way or try to stand on the sideline pay for that decision.