Justice Department drops net neutrality suit against California

The Biden administration retracted the Trump-era legal action that challenged the state’s pro-net neutrality legislation

The US government signalled a significant U-turn in its net neutrality approach after dropping a legal case against California.

In Eastern California District Court, the Biden administration retracted the Trump-era legal action that challenged the state’s pro-net neutrality legislation.

Net neutrality forbids telecommunications companies from treating network traffic differently based on its type or its origin. It was a longstanding principle underpinning the internet, which the Obama administration officially regulated in 2015. 

In 2017, under the Trump administration, former FCC chairman Ajit Pai overturned that regulation, striking down the net neutrality rules and enabling telcos to discern between different types of internet traffic.

California passed its own legislation, SB 822, in 2018 aimed at reintroducing net neutrality laws in the state. The Department of Justice (DoJ) then launched a lawsuit against the state, claiming its legislation contradicted the FCC's ruling and the state didn't have the right to decide telecommunications policy.

SB 822 was supposed to come into effect on January 1, 2019, but Attorney General Xavier Becerra agreed to stay the legislation while a Washington, DC court decided on a case brought against the FCC by Mozilla, Vimeo, and 22 states objecting to the Commission's net neutrality rollback. The court ruled in the FCC's favor in October 2019.

The DoJ responded to a judicial query, officially dropping its case against California on Monday, prompting new FCC chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, to issue a formal statement.

"I am pleased that the Department of Justice has withdrawn this lawsuit. When the FCC, over my objection, rolled back its net neutrality policies, states like California sought to fill the void with their own laws," she said. "By taking this step, Washington is listening to the American people, who overwhelmingly support an open internet, and is charting a course to once again make net neutrality the law of the land."

California still has some work ahead of it before it can enforce its proposed legislation, though. It faces litigation from other parties: the American Cable Association, the CTIA wireless trade association, the Internet & Television Association, and the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom).

Featured Resources

How virtual desktop infrastructure enables digital transformation

Challenges and benefits of VDI

Free download

The Okta digital trust index

Exploring the human edge of trust

Free download

Optimising workload placement in your hybrid cloud

Deliver increased IT agility with the cloud

Free Download

Modernise endpoint protection and leave your legacy challenges behind

The risk of keeping your legacy endpoint security tools

Download now

Recommended

Biden nominates Meg Whitman for ambassador role in Kenya
Policy & legislation

Biden nominates Meg Whitman for ambassador role in Kenya

10 Dec 2021
UK and US agree deeper data-sharing partnership
Policy & legislation

UK and US agree deeper data-sharing partnership

9 Dec 2021
ID.me and Sterling Check partner on in-person identity verification
identity and access management (IAM)

ID.me and Sterling Check partner on in-person identity verification

19 Nov 2021
Podcast transcript: Can the US take on big tech?
Policy & legislation

Podcast transcript: Can the US take on big tech?

19 Nov 2021

Most Popular

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

6 Jan 2022
How to speed up Windows 11
Microsoft Windows

How to speed up Windows 11

7 Jan 2022
Dell XPS 15 (2021) review: The best just got better
Laptops

Dell XPS 15 (2021) review: The best just got better

14 Jan 2022