Internet providers sue California over net neutrality law

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Internet, cable and wireless providers are suing California over its tough new net neutrality law following a separate lawsuit from the Justice Department seeking to block the state from implementing such rules.

Four industry groups representing internet providers such as AT&T and Comcast filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in federal court in California that accuses lawmakers there of “unconstitutional state regulation.”

USTelecom, the American Cable Association, the wireless group CTIA and NCTA – The Internet & Television Association all argue that the state’s attempt to replace recently repealed federal rules could hurt consumers.

{mosads}“We oppose California’s action to regulate internet access because it threatens to negatively affect services for millions of consumers and harm new investment and economic growth,” the four groups said in a joint statement.

“Republican and Democratic administrations, time and again, have embraced the notion that actions like this are preempted by federal law. We believe the courts will continue to uphold that fundamental principle.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Sunday signed the net neutrality legislation S.B. 822 into law, requiring internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. The move came after the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission (FCC) caused a nationwide uproar by repealing the Obama-era open internet regulations, which went away in June.

Just hours after Brown signed the bill, the Justice Department sued the state, arguing that California was illegally defying the FCC’s order that expressly barred states from implementing their own regulations on internet service providers.

“We disagree with the legal validity of the US DOJ arguments and look forward to making our case in court,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in an emailed statement to The Hill this week. “California has the right to exercise its sovereign powers under the Constitution. We’re prepared to demonstrate that when it comes to protecting 40 million consumers and their right to access information.”

In addition to the latest lawsuits over the state law, a group of state attorneys general and consumer groups sued the FCC earlier this year in an effort to block the net neutrality repeal. 

— Updated at 1:40 p.m.

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