UPDATE: California net neutrality bill SB 822––widely regarded as the best state level net neutrality bill in the country––just passed a crucial vote in front of the same committee where it was unceremoniously gutted last month. In early June, at the behest of ISP lobbyists, the Communications and Conveyance Committee eviscerated the bill by ripping out key protections in a vote on amendments that was held even before testimony was heard.
Today the bill headed back to the committee to approve amendments that restore those protections - this time with the blessing of the committee chairman Miguel Santiago, who has become an ardent supporter of the bill after facing massive public outcry and the threat of crowdfunded billboards in his district.
The bill was advanced by the committee, and will now head to a final vote on the Assembly floor, likely next week. If it passes on the floor it will head back to the Senate, which will need to vote on the updated version of the bill.
Fight for the Future, a leading net neutrality group with hundreds of thousands of members in California, issued the followings statement, which can be attributed to Deputy Director, Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):
SB 822 is now one step closer to becoming law.
Let me say this in no uncertain terms: any California legislator who stands in the way of net neutrality will regret it for the rest of their political career. The whole Internet is watching. Honestly it’s ridiculous and a bit embarrassing for the Democratic Party that net neutrality activists have had to fight so hard to get this bill passed in a state with a supermajority of lawmakers from a party that professes to love the free and open Internet.
It shows the stranglehold that monopolistic ISPs like AT&T have over state legislators, bought and paid for with campaign contributions and fancy golf outings with lobbyists. This juxtaposed with the very real impact of these companies’ greed on Californians––including the story that broke yesterday showing Verizon throttled the connection of firefighters battling the state’s wildfires.
SB 822 is the best darn state level net neutrality bill in the nation. Passing it should be a no-brainer for the California legislature. This is a test of our democracy.