The best state level let neutrality bill in the country, California’s SB 822, is heading for a vote in the state Assembly as early as this afternoon.
"The whole Internet is watching. The California legislature is about to decide whether to stand for free speech and democracy or trample on Internet users’ rights in order to appease corporate donors," said Evan Greer, Deputy Director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/her). "SB 822 is the best damn net neutrality bill in the country. It’s the most authentic attempt to restore the essential protections that the FCC repealed. And with firefighters and emergency workers sounding the alarm about the very real dangers of allowing ISPs to operate without oversight, passing it should be a no brainer for any state legislator that wants to keep their job."
The vote on SB 822 has implications for the entire country, and comes amidst widespread public outcry following reports that Verizon throttled service to firefighters battling the worst wildfire in the state’s history. The now repealed FCC net neutrality rules would have provided the possibility of redress for the fire department. SB 822 would allow the State Attorney General to investigate such incidents.
Giant Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast have poured enormous amounts of money into lobbying efforts to stop SB 822. They’ve even been caught funding astroturf front groups, who are targeting senior citizens with misleading robocalls, and running outrageous Twitter ads generating tweets at Assemblymembers that look like they’re from real constituents. One of these groups, CALinnovates, even lies about its membership, claiming Uber is a partner when the company denies it.
SB 822 is widely regarded as the best state-level net neutrality bill in the country. It just passed a crucial vote in front of the same committee where it was unceremoniously gutted last month at the behest of ISP lobbyists. This time the bill passed 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.
If the bill passes the Assembly, it will head back to the Senate. The Senate already passed a previous version of the bill, but must vote again on new amendments after the bill was gutted and then restored following public backlash.