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Federal judge rules California can enforce its net neutrality law

Federal judge rules California can enforce its net neutrality law
© The Hill illustration

California can enforce its landmark net neutrality law after a federal judge ruled Tuesday against a group of broadband providers seeking to block it.

The state passed the stringent regulations in 2018 after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rolled back the Obama-era rule prohibiting service providers from selectively discriminating against online traffic.

The state law — SB 822 — had also been challenged by the Trump administration, which argued that states do not have authority to set net neutrality rules.

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The Biden administration dropped that legal challenge earlier this month, leaving the court case by telecommunications industry trade groups as the last roadblock to the bill’s implementation.

Judge John Mendez, appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush, declined to grant the industry request for a preliminary injunction on Tuesday.

The telecom groups challenging the law said in a statement that they will review the judge’s decision “before deciding on next steps.”

The challenge will continue to be evaluated by the court, but California can enforce its net neutrality rules in the interim.

"States like California sought to fill the void with their own laws," acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica RosenworcelJessica RosenworcelTo build lasting digital equity, look to communities Officials discuss proposals for fixing deep disparities in education digital divide The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - At 50 days in charge, Democrats hail American Rescue Plan as major win MORE (D) tweeted Tuesday evening. "Tonight a court in California decided that the state law can go into effect. This is big news for #openinternet policy."

The Biden administration has been under pressure to re-establish the Obama-era rules. However, with the FCC deadlocked at 2-2, action on that front is unlikely until Democrats can get a nominee through the Senate later this year.

John Kruzel contributed. Updated at 1:34 p.m.