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CEO DATELINE – Telecom associations sue to overturn California net neutrality law

Oct. 4, 2018
By Walt Williams

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Four telecommunications industry associations are suing California to halt a state law preventing internet service providers from blocking or slowing down access to certain online services and websites.

The four associations filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, claiming the law is unconstitutional because it attempts to undermine federal law regulating online traffic, the technology news site Ars Technica reported.

It is “impossible or impracticable for an internet service provider offering (broadband) to distinguish traffic that moves only within California from traffic that crosses state borders,” the groups said in the complaint.

California adopted the net neutrality law after the Federal Communications Commission reversed similar Obama-era rules last year at the behest of telecommunications companies, who complained the rules were burdensome to implement. However, many internet-based businesses support net neutrality because they fear ISPs will seek fees from them if those companies want unfettered consumer access to their content.

CTIA—The Wireless Association, NCTA—The Internet & Television Association, USTelecom and the American Cable Association brought the lawsuit.

Ultimately the case may be decided by the outcome of another lawsuit, Ars Technica reported. Twenty-two state attorneys general sued the FCC in January, arguing that the commission acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner when it reversed the earlier rules.  The case is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C.