Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai is prepared to fight the State of California over net neutrality oversight.
In a speech Friday, Pai flatly declared that California’s newest net neutrality bill is “illegal”. The bill has already passed through the state legislature and, barring federal opposition, will become law when Governor Jerry Brown provides his signature.
Here’s what Pai told a group at the Maine Heritage Policy Center in Portland:
“The broader problem is that California’s micromanagement poses a risk to the rest of the country. After all, broadband is an interstate service; Internet traffic doesn’t recognize state lines. It follows that only the federal government can set regulatory policy in this area.
“For if individual states like California regulate the Internet, this will directly impact citizens in other states. Among other reasons, this is why efforts like California’s are illegal.”
Pai also cited a court ruling that seems to favor his opinion, and promised a fight ahead:
“In fact, just last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reaffirmed the well-established law that state regulation of information services is preempted by federal law. Last December, the FCC made clear that broadband is just such an information service.
“So let me be clear: The Internet should be run by engineers, entrepreneurs, and technologists, not lawyers, bureaucrats, and politicians. That’s what we decided in 2017, and we’re going to fight to make sure it stays that way.”
As a result of Pai’s opposition and California officials’ standing behind their efforts, a legal showdown may be imminent.
Pai claims that the FCC’s net neutrality regulations (or lack thereof) supersede state laws, while California contends that it has the right to regulate the internet as they see fit.
California’s tough bill still awaits signature by governor Jerry Brown.