California's net neutrality bill, SB 822 has received a majority of votes in the Senate and is heading to the governor's desk. In this fight, ISPs with millions of dollars to spend lost to the voice of the majority of Americans who support net
neutrality. This is a victory that can be replicated.
ISPs like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast hated this bill. SB 822 bans blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, classic ways that companies have violated net neutrality principles. It also incorporates much of what the FCC learned and
incorporated into the 2015 Open Internet Order, preventing new assaults on the free and open Internet. This includes making sure companies can't circumvent net neutrality at the point of interconnection within the state of California. It also
prevents companies from using zero rating--the practice of not counting certain apps or services against a data limit--in a discriminatory way. That is to say that, say, there could be a plan where all media streaming services were zero-rated,
but not one where just one was. One that had either paid for the privilege or one owned by the service provider. In that respect, it's a practice much like discriminatory paid prioritization, where ISPs create fast lanes for those who can pay or
for other companies they own.
ISPs and their surrogates waged a war of misinformation on this bill. They argued that net neutrality made it impossible to invest in expanding and upgrading their service, even though they make plenty of money . Lobbying groups sent out
robocalls that didn't mention net neutrality--which remains overwhelmingly popular--merely mentioned the bill's number and claimed, with no evidence, that it would force ISPs to raise their prices by $30 . And they argued against the zero-rating
provision when we know those practices disproportionately affect lower-income consumers.
There was a brief moment in this fight when it looked like the ISPs had won. Amendments offered in the Assembly Committee on Communication and Conveyance after the bill had passed the California Senate mostly intact gutted the bill. But you made
your voices heard again and again until the bill's strength was restored and we turned opponents into supporters in the legislature.
In the middle of all of this, the story broke that Verizon had throttled the service of a fire department in California during a wildfire. During the largest wildfire in California history, the Santa Clara fire department found that its unlimited
data plan was being throttled by Verizon and, when contacted, the ISP told the fire department they needed to pay more for a better plan. Under the 2015 Open Internet Order, the FCC would have been able to investigate Verizon's actions . But
since that order's been repealed, Verizon might escape meaningful punishment for its actions.
California's fight is a microcosm of the nation's. Net neutrality is popular across the country . The same large ISPs that led the fight against it in California are the ones that serve the rest of the country, a majority of which don't have a
choice of provider . The arguments that they made in California are the same ones they made to the FCC to get the Open Internet Order repealed. The only thing preventing what happened to California's firefighters from happening elsewhere is
Verizon saying it won't.
We need to net neutrality protections on as many levels as we can get them. And Congress can still vote to restore the FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order. In fact, the Senate already did. So contact your member of the House of Representatives and
tell them to vote for the Congressional Review Act and save national net neutrality protections.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter to complain that social media companies are discriminating against prominent conservatives, saying we won't let that happen. He tweeted:
Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won't let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same
time doing nothing to others.
.....Censorship is a very dangerous thing & absolutely impossible to police. If you are weeding out Fake News, there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed. I get used to it and
watch with a grain of salt, or don't watch at all.
The president later added:
....Too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Who is making the choices, because I can already tell you that too many mistakes are being made. Let everybody participate, good & bad,
and we will all just have to figure it out!
Trump in July said his administration will look into the practice of shadow banning on Twitter, or reducing the visibility of certain people or groups on the platform, which he alleged was happening to prominent conservative voices.