Net neutrality advocates blasted California lawmakers for silently gutting a critical open internet law on Wednesday. Critics believe the entire process was undemocratic and corrupt.
On Wednesday, the Communications and Conveyance Committee gutted SB 822. The bill was supposed to impose a gold standard for regulations that target net neutrality. The decision was unveiled after 10 p.m. on Wednesday. Plus, the hearing yesterday started without a debate.
The Color of Change nonprofit blasted lawmakers for being an “embarrassment” to democracy and for doing a disservice to the people that elected them.
Four GOP members and four Democrats voted on weakening the law. After the changes, ISPs will be able to throttle internet access and impose high fees on content providers.
The proponent of the law Senator Scott Wiener had tried to pull out the bill before being mutilated but with no success. The CCC passed it despite his best efforts.
An Outrageous Decision
Wiener said that what happened on Wednesday was “outrageous”. The lawmaker blasted CCC for adding amendments to the law after the Senate had passed it with “strong net neutrality protections” without even having a proper hearing or public comment period.
Wiener accuses ISPs of lobbying hard the committee before the decision. For instance, AT&T had told the committee that the bill would attack an industry that has been investing billions of dollars in the state’s infrastructure.
What’s more, CCC’s chairman Miguel Santiago’s (D) campaign has been recently financed by telecom providers, campaign records show.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation labeled CCC’s decision-making process as “corruption.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) had reportedly urged Santiago to not water down the law. Pelosi was reportedly “disappointed” with the decision.
Santiago argued that there is more work to be done when it comes to net neutrality. He claims that the changes to the law are “the exact 2015 Obama rules as written.” The Trump administration killed off FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order on June 11.
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