Telecom giants dismiss lawsuit challenging California’s net neutrality law

Telecom industry groups on Wednesday ended their attempt to block California’s net neutrality law, which prevents broadband providers from throttling services. In a federal court motion in Sacramento, the groups and California Attorney General Rob Bonta jointly agreed to dismiss the case.

The move followed a January 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that allowed enforcement of the 2018 law that prohibits internet service providers from slowing down or blocking access to websites and applications that don’t pay for premium services.

“The case is finally closed,” Bonta said in a statement. “With this win, we have secured a free and open Internet for California’s 40 million residents once and for all.” Messages seeking comment from an attorney representing the groups were not immediately responded to.

The law was signed into law by former Gov. Jerry Brown after regulators scrapped federal net neutrality rules during the Trump administration, which were designed to prevent AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other major ISPs from exploiting their dominance to sell one service or app over another prefer.

In response, seven states and Puerto Rico issued their own net neutrality policies. The most extensive effort has been in California, where enforcement of the law began last year, with potentially significant ramifications for the rest of the United States.

California law not only prohibited internet service providers from throttling services or charging companies like Netflix for a faster route to customers, but also prohibited some forms of “zero rating” — a term for when a cable or phone company buys a service from Excludes data restrictions.

Net neutrality advocates say such schemes undermine competition, potentially driving users toward the sponsored app and away from competitors.

Large telecommunications companies have fiercely fought the measure in court. They argued that the regulations could undermine investments in broadband and create uncertainty about what are acceptable business practices. The Trump administration sued to block the 2018 California law and prevented it from going into effect for years, but the Biden administration dropped that lawsuit.

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Ryan Sederquist

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