California's net neutrality law is set to take effect on January 1, but the Justice Department late Sunday in a court filing sought a preliminary injunction to block it from taking effect, warning that internet companies "cannot realistically comply with one set of standards in this area for California and another for the rest of the nation - especially when internet communications frequently cross multiple jurisdictions".
The bill passed the state legislature with overwhelming and bipartisan support, and could unleash a wave of similar efforts in other states, with serious implications in the fight to restore net neutrality nationwide.
But the Justice Department said the law runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution, which gives the federal government the power to set rules for interstate commerce - and that, they said, means the internet.
"I favor a free and open internet as I think most consumers do, my concern is with the particular regulations the FCC adopted two years ago, my concern is that by imposing those heavy-handed economic regulations on internet service providers both big and small we could end up disincentivizing companies from wanting to build out internet access to a lot of parts of the country", stated Pai.
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Jonathan Spalter, who heads USTelecom, an industry trade group, said California's law will not "help advance the promise and potential of California's innovation DNA".
The DOJ is not the only ones moving to stop this new law. Finally, the bill also makes sure that Californians are protected from mega-corporations like the newly minted AT&T-TimeWarner who want to push their content and services on subscribers, while harming all other speakers and companies on the internet. "When all is said and done, Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are going to wish they'd never picked a fight with Internet over net neutrality".
"An agency that has no power to regulate has no power to preempt the states", she said.
The Trump administration repealed the Obama era rules on net neutrality in December 2017.
California joins OR and Washington as states that have successfully passed a net neutrality bill. Consumer advocacy groups, small tech companies and smaller telecom carriers have banded together in an effort to block the FCC from repealing its net neutrality regulations, and that case is still pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.