A few months after the Trump administration scrapped the Obama administration's robust net neutrality rules in 2018, California passed its own open-internet law. The Justice Department immediately sued to block California's net neutrality law, and it was in limbo until President Biden's administration dropped the lawsuit last month. A federal judge in California on Tuesday dismissed the last legal hurdle, a lawsuit by four telecom industry groups, opening the door to enforcement of the nation's first mandate that internet service providers treat all web traffic equally.
The four telecom lobbying groups — America's Communications Association, Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, the the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and USTelecom — said Tuesday they "will review the court's opinion before deciding on next steps," suggesting they could appeal U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez's ruling. The broadband industry has successfully fought open-internet regulations for decades, but the industry groups said Tuesday that faced with a muddled "state-by-state approach," they think "Congress should codify rules for an open internet."
Other states have been watching the California case for years, "hoping a legal resolution in the state's favor might open the door for them to try to craft their own open-Internet rules without facing a similar legal threat," The Washington Post reports. Congressional action is theoretically possible, but it's more likely Biden's FCC will act, once the Senate confirms his nominee, breaking the 2-2 gridlock.
Net neutrality laws like the one in California prohibit internet service providers from slowing down traffic to certain sites or providing special fast access to sites that pay extra for the boost. Broadband companies and other opponents argue such rules will stifle innovation and curb investment in faster internet speeds.