Free Press Joins Court Defense of California’s Popular Net Neutrality Law
WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, Free Press joined Access Now, Mozilla, New America’s Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge in filing an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in defense of California’s Net Neutrality legislation.
In 2018, California adopted open-internet rules similar to those the Trump Federal Communications Commission had eliminated the prior year. The California law includes provisions prohibiting broadband providers from blocking, degrading or charging for prioritization of internet traffic, as well as a framework for assessing providers’ other unreasonable practices.
The brief explains that — contrary to false claims made by the Trump FCC, broadband providers and parties like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that have joined in this attack on the California law — Net Neutrality rules do not harm the broadband industry. The level of broadband investment in the United States did not decrease as a result of the Obama FCC’s strong Net Neutrality rules; nor did it increase as a result of the Trump administration’s open-internet repeal.
The brief also makes the case that broadband providers have not only the incentive and ability to undermine Net Neutrality, but also a demonstrated and ongoing history of doing so.
Finally, the brief debunks industry claims that broadband networks have been markedly “resilient” during the pandemic thanks to the FCC’s repeal.
Free Press Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood made the following statement:
“We’ve seen the broadband industry recycle the same lies for almost two decades now, all to justify stripping away critical protections for internet freedom. But the truth is plain if you actually look at the data: The FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order didn’t harm broadband investment — not in the aggregate, and not for individual companies. And repealing Net Neutrality did not, as Chairman Pai arrogantly claims, lead to a spike in broadband investment.
“In reality, industry investment cycles through peaks and valleys according to the strategic decisions of individual firms, independent of the state of federal open-internet protections. There’s no reason to believe that this would change under the good law that California passed to fill the void created when the FCC wrongly took away people’s protections from phone-and-cable-company schemes.
“California’s law is a testament to the popular and bipartisan appeal of strong open-internet protections. Beyond that, it’s a testament to the power of organizing by our California allies to overcome industry lobbyists' lies and set the record straight about the real benefits of Net Neutrality protections.”