SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Democratic state legislator in California is proposing revising consumer protection laws as a way to reinstate tough new network neutrality rules being rolled back by the FCC.
Sen. Scott Weiner Tuesday (March 13) introduced a tough new version of a net neutrality bill that would add various online practices to the Consumers Legal Remedies Act’s definition of “certain unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in the provision of goods and services in the state.
Those unfair methods would now include blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, and specifically paid zero rating plans, among other things (see below).
ISPs can zero rate in application-agnostic ways, but can’t do so in exchange for being paid by a third party. Zero rating plans are ones in which third parties subsidize an ISP’s exclusion of accessing their site — say streaming a bandwidth-heavy video — from a users’ bandwidth allowance. It is both a way for the edge provider to drive traffic to their site and for the ISP to differentiate service.
The bill would also tie access to the state’s Universal Service Fund broadband subsidies to adhering to the new net neutrality rules and apply net neutrality to interconnections, which the FCC did in the 2015 Open Internet order and the current FCC reversed.