California Gov. Jerry Brown is facing a Sunday deadline to approve or veto a measure that’d reinstate Obama-era net neutrality regulations.
Last month, reports the Wall Street Journal, ‘California Republicans joined Democrats in the state legislature to approve what experts say are the nation’s strongest net-neutrality provisions.’ The bill would, among other things, prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking websites, throttling traffic or accepting payments to create so-called digital fast-lanes.
Brown has yet to indicate whether he’s likely to sign the proposal into law or exercise his veto.
If Gov. Brown abstains from doing anything at all, the bill will automatically become law by midnight Sunday.
The governor’s lack of inaction is, according to the Wall Street Journal, a little unusual. In the almost-eight years he’s been in office, Brown tends to act rather than allow laws to automatically codify.
And if Gov. Brown does opt to veto, precedent suggests the California State Congress won’t challenge his decision. Although Democrats control both the Senate and Assembly—and could likely muster support for a second measure—legislature hasn’t overridden a veto since 1979.
Open-internet advocates have prompted the governor to sign the bill or at least speak his mind.
“Millions of Californians are waiting for Gov. Jerry Brown to affirm their call for a free and open internet,” said the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is urging residents to sign onto a pro-net neutrality petition.
Net neutrality protections put into place by Barack Obama and the Federal Communications Commission in the 2015 Open Internet Order were overturned last year by the Trump administration. A conservative panel, headed by former Verizon executive Ajit Pai, rescinded the order in a move which polled unpopular across the political spectrum.
The same sorts of telecommunications companies and ISPs which support the Trump administration’s rollback are questioning the legality of California’s own proposal.
Under Pai, the FCC’s rescission asserts that states are ‘preempted’ from restoring net neutrality rules.
But that issue, suggests BroadcastingCable.com, is one that’s likely to be taken to the courts—other states outside of California have pending bills or measures intended to bring back Obama-era net neutrality.
Evan Greer, executive director of net neutrality advocacy group ‘Fight for the Future,’ told BroadcastingCable.com that she isn’t worried.
“My understanding is that it’s really common for [a] governor to wait until the last minute on the biggest, most talked-about bills,” she said. “Everyone I’m talking to still expects him to sign it.”
“We’re watching closely,” she added.
The bill’s faced and uncertain future since its passage, with Brown refusing to suggest any support or lack thereof. One way or another, state lawmakers say the measure would give California some of the best protections in the nation.
“We passed the strongest net neutrality standards in the nation,” said San Francisco Democrat Scott Wiener in early September.
“This is about a level playing field and an Internet where we as individuals get to decide where we go on the Internet instead of being told by Internet service providers, or manipulated by Internet service providers, into going where they want us to go,” Weiner, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, told reporters.