WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday asked a federal judge to block California’s net neutrality law, arguing that federal law preempts the state statute.
In October, a U.S. appeals court largely upheld the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repeal of landmark U.S. net neutrality rules. In 2018, California agreed not to enforce its own state net neutrality law until a final court decision on the FCC repeal.
The Trump FCC in 2017 voted 3-2 to toss out Obama-era rules prohibiting internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes. The California law would reinstate those prohibitions in the state.
The U.S. government is seeking a preliminary injunction to block California from being able to enforce its law.
The California attorney general’s office said it is reviewing the Justice Department’s filing “and look forward to defending California’s state net neutrality protections.”
The 2017 FCC 3-2 vote was applauded by internet service providers (ISPs), as it gave them sweeping powers to recast how Americans use the internet, as long as they disclose changes. The new rules took effect in June 2018, but service providers have yet to change how users access the internet.
The California law was applauded by large tech companies and consumer groups that had championed the level playing field of net neutrality.
The appeals court, in its October decision, also ruled the FCC had overstepped its legal authority when it expressly declared states cannot pass their own net neutrality laws.
The Justice Department said despite that ruling that it still believes California’s net neutrality law is preempted by federal law. A decision on the Justice Department action is not expected before mid-October, according to a court schedule.
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