Brown okays new rules for subscription services, CPUC reform, law enforcement

by Steve Blum • , ,

As we’re waiting for governor Jerry Brown to decide the fate of the two big broadband bills of the 2017 California legislative session – assembly bill 1665 and senate bill 649 – it’s a good time to take a quick look at some other relevant legislation he’s approved.

Brown signed SB 19 and SB 385 into law. Together, those two bills reorganise some of the California Public Utilities Commission’s responsibilities, although telecommunications oversight was left untouched.

He also okayed AB 1034, which would restrict the ability of government agencies to cut off telecommunications services. It’s an issue that’s arisen during protests, when agencies – BART is the example – shut down cell service as a means of crowd control. Now, that can only be done with a judge’s order or in an “extreme emergency situation that involves immediate danger of death or great bodily injury”.

Although its applicability to broadband service is certain to be challenged, Brown approved SB 313. Among other things, it makes it illegal for a business to…

Charge the consumer’s credit or debit card, or the consumer’s account with a third party, for an automatic renewal or continuous service without first obtaining the consumer’s affirmative consent to the agreement containing the automatic renewal offer terms or continuous service offer terms, including the terms of an automatic renewal offer or continuous service offer that is made at a promotional or discounted price for a limited period of time…

A consumer who accepts an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online shall be allowed to terminate the automatic renewal or continuous service exclusively online, which may include a termination email formatted and provided by the business that a consumer can send to the business without additional information.

Anyone who has tried to figure out how much broadband service really costs, after promotional packages expire, or tried to cancel it, will appreciate this bill.