California Governor Jerry Brown signed the US’s toughest net neutrality measure on Sunday, requiring internet providers to maintain a level playing field online.
Immediately afterwards, a lawsuit was filed by the Trump administration.
Advocates of net neutrality hope the new law in the home of the global technology industry will have national implications by pushing Congress to enact national net neutrality rules or encouraging other states to follow suit.
However, the U.S. Department of Justice wants to stop the law, arguing that it creates burdensome, anti-consumer requirements that go against the federal government’s approach of deregulating the internet.
Supporters of the new law cheered it as a win for internet freedom. It is set to take effect Jan. 1.
The Federal Communications Commission last year repealed rules that prevented internet companies from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet.
Telecommunications companies lobbied hard to kill it or water it down, saying it would lead to higher internet and cellphone bills and discourage investments in faster internet.
They say it is unrealistic to expect them to comply with internet regulations that differ from state to state.
Net neutrality advocates worry that without rules, internet providers could create fast lanes and slow lanes that favor their own sites and apps or make it harder for consumers to see content from competitors.
That could limit consumer choice or shut out upstart companies that cannot afford to buy access to the fast lane, critics say.
The new law prohibits internet providers from blocking or slowing data based on content or from favoring websites or video streams from companies that pay extra.
It also bans “zero rating,” in which internet providers do not count certain content against a monthly data cap — generally video streams produced by the company’s own subsidiaries and partners.
Oregon, Washington and Vermont have approved legislation related to net neutrality, but California’s measure is perhaps the most comprehensive attempt to codify the principle in a way that might survive a likely court challenge.