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The FCC's repeal of nationwide net neutrality protections provoked massive protests across the country. (Photo: @LiberalResist/Twitter)

Net Neutrality Advocates Hopeful as California Bill Advances Despite Lobbyists' Attack

"Their army of lobbyists was no match for California residents."

Jessica Corbett

Despite concerns that California state lawmakers would cave to lobbyists for the telecommunications industry, legislation that's been called the "gold standard" for state-level net neutrality protections cleared its first hurdle on the way to becoming law.

Senate Bill 822, authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), passed the Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee and now advances to the Judiciary Committee. The legislation would reinstate and build upon the FCC's recently repealed rules for internet service providers. ISPs, as they are known, have responded with an intense lobbying effort to water down the bill.

The progress late Tuesday was a relief for net neutrality advocates, who had grown alarmed ahead of the hearing, after Democratic state lawmakers put out a report that read "like it was literally written by lobbyists for AT&T and Comcast." While celebrating the step forward, they stressed the importance of maintaining pressure on state legislators to reject industry demands.

"ISPs did everything in their power to try to stop this bill, but even their army of lobbyists was no match for California residents who used the internet to mobilize," Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer said in a statement. "Monopolistic ISPs will undoubtedly continue their crusade to weaken or kill the bill, but internet users will fight them every step of the way."

Greer added that "Congress should also take note, and pass the CRA resolution to restore strong net neutrality protections for all."

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has introduced a resolution that would restore protections at a federal level, but the measure needs support from one more Republican senator to pass, and members of Congress only have one more month before they can no longer take action to challenge the FCC's rollback.

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