California’s Robust SB 822 Marches To Assembly

In Decenternet, News
SB 822

It has been watered down but its toughness cannot be worn out that easily because of the people that support it.

SB 822 has been dubbed as the “gold standard” of net neutrality and has every reason for being so. On Wednesday, Democrat Sen. Scott Wiener’s (San Francisco, CA) proposed bill advances to the Assembly. The Senate passed the measure in May and now the Assembly must have to do its part and should vote on it on August 31.

The bill has been through a lot when Communications and Conveyance Committee, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago gutted some of the most significant provisions. It is worth remembering that Sen. Wiener’s bill is poised to merge with Democrat Sen. Kevin de Léon’s SB 460. One cannot pass without the other because of what Santiago did.

Following the incident, Santiago has been named and shamed by net neutrality advocates. Even his family members became affected as well. One may say that it could be the reason why he changed his mind and work with Sen. Wiener to make some necessary restorations to the SB 822 to protect consumers knowing that his campaign has been funded before by an internet service provider.

Sen. Wiener’s SB 822 has a lot of supporters including FCC chief Tom Wheeler, California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, various advocacy groups, and the residents themselves. They are present in during the Sacramento hearing on Wednesday to express their never-ending support to net neutrality and protest broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, chambers of commerce and those who want net neutrality dead.

“AT&T may have an army of lobbyists on its side, but Californians are firmly on the side of protecting the free and open internet,” CREDO Campaign Manager Brandy Doyle noted.

Medium-scale tech companies also sent Sen. Wiener a letter of support to his bill saying that without the net neutrality regulations, they will be incapacitated. They seek the protection of SB 822 that will prevent ISP’s unlawful practice of blocking and throttling of internet traffic and illogical zero-rating.

One latest example of a throttling incident was the data throttling of the Santa Clara County Fire Department by Verizon itself. While firefighters give their best efforts to put out the raging wildfires, they are also battling with their slow internet connection which provides updates to their base through their fire department vehicle called OES 5262 that uses a Verizon SIM card to access the internet.

On Monday, fire department Chief Tony Bowden sent a letter to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding the throttling incident that made a consequential effect on their capability to give emergency services where and when it is most needed. He claimed that Verizon knew what is happening but did nothing to make the internet connection faster for the fire department.

Verizon spokeswoman Heidi Flato admitted their mistake and responded, “Regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have the practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations. We have done that many times, including for emergency personnel responding to these tragic fires. In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us. This was a customer support mistake. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward.”

The wildfire happened in California as well as the throttling incident. It is worth noting that is the time when net neutrality advocates and adversaries are having a clash regarding SB 822. Both parties are looking for reasons and pieces of evidence why and why not net neutrality should be restored in the country. What happened in the Mendocino Complex should not be treated as an isolated case because there sure are a lot of ISPs unlawful practices that have not been reported yet and is still ongoing.

Net neutrality as we all know is the principle that treats all contents fairly and without discrimination. Users can experience that kind of equality in the Decenternet platform. It empowers and enables free speech while providing consumers the opportunity of unrestricted access to the centralized and decentralized web.

Meanwhile, Sen. De Léon’s SB 460 also passed the committee with a 9-3 vote. The measure demands business to comply with the net neutrality rules once they enter into contracts within the state. The bill now advances to the Privacy Committee.

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