California net neutrality bill faces midnight deadline

30 September 2018 by Steve Blum
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UPDATE 2:the Trump administration’s political hacks in the justice department were on alert – they challenged SB 822 in federal court. Quickly. Click here for more.

UPDATE: Brown approved SB 822. Click here for more.

Today is decision day for network neutrality in California. Governor Jerry Brown must either sign senate bill 822 into law, or veto it, or simply ignore it and let it become law automatically tonight, when the midnight deadline for acting passes.

It would reinstate rules adopted by the Obama adminstration’s Federal Communications Commission in 2015, then repealed in 2017 by the Trump administration’s FCC. Under SB 822, ISPs would be banned from blocking, throttling, paid prioritisation and zero rating of subscriber’s traffic based on content. Upstream evasions, through deals with content providers or others at interconnection points, would be prohibited as well.

According to Scott Lay at Around the Capitol, Brown had 183 bills sitting on his desk as of Friday night. He acted on 56 bills yesterday, leaving 127 bills to decide today. That’s a lot – a little bit more than 10% of his annual bill signing workload in one day. The legislature sent him a total of 1,217 bills this year, most of them during the end of the session crunch in the last week of August.

SB 822 was carried by senator Scott Wiener (D San Francisco). He’s held two pro-SB 822 rallies in the past month: one in San Francisco featuring Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco congresswoman and minority leader of the federal house of representatives, and one in Los Angeles with fellow California legislators. He’s a prolific tweeter, but he hasn’t said much about it in the past couple of weeks

I predicted Brown will sign the bill into law and I’m standing by that. But it’s no more than a guess. Brown makes his own decisions for his own reasons and he’s not afraid to use his veto pen. So far, he’s vetoed 16% of the bills he’s acted on, and that rate has been rising as the deadline nears – nearly 40% of yesterday’s bills were vetoed.