Handing the cable industry a defeat, a federal judge in California on Tuesday refused to prohibit the state from enforcing its net neutrality law.
The ruling, issued by U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez in Sacramento, stems from a challenge to California's law by organizations representing internet service providers. They sought to block the law, arguing that broadband service is inherently interstate and therefore not subject to regulation by individual states.
California's net neutrality law (SB 822), enacted in September of 2018, prohibits broadband providers from blocking or throttling traffic, charging higher fees for fast-lane service, and from exempting their own video streams from consumers' data caps.
The Obama-era Federal Communications Commission voted to pass similar regulations in 2015. But two years later, the Trump-era FCC voted to repeal the utility-service classification as well as the bulk of the 2015 rules.
Former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who shepherded the repeal, says the prior rules were “heavy handed,” and claimed they depressed investment.
But net neutrality advocates say net neutrality rules are necessary to prevent broadband providers from limiting people's ability to access streaming video, search engines and other online services.
Several states, including California, responded to the repeal by passing their own versions of net neutrality laws.
The Trump administration challenged the California law, as did the four major broadband industry groups (the American Cable Association, CTIA -- The Wireless Association, NCTA -- The Internet & Television Association and USTelecom -- The Broadband Association).
California state Senator Scott Wiener, who wrote the law, cheered Mendez's decision.
“Major win for net neutrality!” he tweeted Tuesday evening. “SB 822 can now be enforced!”
The Trump administration brought a separate lawsuit challenging California's rules, but the Biden administration withdrew the case earlier this month.
Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has expressed support for restoring the net neutrality rules on a nationwide level.