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ISPs won’t quit trying to derail California’s ‘gold standard’ net neutrality law

This is just the latest in what has been a years-long legal battle surrounding the law.


Andrew Wyrich


Posted on Feb 15, 2022   Updated on Feb 16, 2022, 10:09 am CST

A group of organizations representing internet service providers (ISPs) that sued California over its “gold standard” net neutrality law are continuing their legal battle despite a string of recent defeats.

The groups are urging the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision from late last month to uphold California’s net neutrality law. The decision, made by a panel of judges, was hailed as a “major victory for internet users.”

Specifically, the ISP groups are asking for a new hearing before all the judges from the 9th Circuit.

In their request, the groups argue that the decision from the panel of judges opened the doors for other states to enact their own net neutrality laws that will lead to a “patchwork of conflicting laws,” that ISPs say will be impossible to comply with.

They called for an en banc rehearing and continued to argue that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repeal of net neutrality rules “preempts California’s effort to regulate this critical interstate communications service.”

The request from the ISP trade groups, which was filed late last week, is just the latest in what has been a years-long legal battle surrounding the law.

California passed its law, SB-822, shortly after the FCC’s repeal of federal net neutrality rules in 2017. It was immediately hailed as the “gold standard” for other states to follow in passing their own net neutrality laws, as it was broader than the FCC’s original 2015 Open Internet Order.

The law was immediately hit with a lawsuit from the same ISP trade groups and the Department of Justice, then under the Trump administration.

The lawsuit was put on hold as both sides waited for the Mozilla v. FCC court case, which challenged the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, and was decided by the United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit. It held states did have the right to create their own laws.

After that was decided in October 2019, the California lawsuit was reignited. Eventually, the Justice Department withdrew from the lawsuit following President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

More recently, a district court judge denied the trade group’s request for a preliminary injunction against the law. That denial was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and oral arguments from both sides were held in September.

Last month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s law and rejected the trade group’s legal challenge. Specifically, the Court of Appeals found that the district court in February “correctly denied the preliminary injunction.”

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*First Published: Feb 15, 2022, 3:51 pm CST