Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission called the California net neutrality bill “radical, anti-consumer and illegal.”
He expressed his criticism during his speech at the Maine Heritage Policy Center. Last month, the California legislature passed Senate Bill 822, which many consider to be the strongest net neutrality legislation in the nation. It is the “gold standard” for states seeking to protect net neutrality.
Currently, the California net neutrality bill is on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown. Lawmakers and advocates for open internet have demanded that the governor sign the legislation.
He noted that their latest strategy is “pushing state governments to regulate the internet.” The “most egregious example” of this tactic happened in California.
According to him, the “state legislature passed a radical, anti-consumer internet regulation bill that would impose restrictions even more burdensome than those adopted by the FCC in 2015.”
Pai Accuses ‘Nanny-state California Legislators’ of Wanting to Ban Free-data Plans
Pai warned that the legislation would prevent Californians from purchasing many free-data plans if the governor signs it into law. He said, the “nanny-state California legislators apparently want to ban their constituents from having this choice. They have met the enemy, and it is free data.”
In addition, Pai claimed that California “poses a risk” to the entire country. He said consumers in other states will be directly affected if individual states like California regulate the internet.
Furthermore, Pai stated only the federal government can regulate the internet. He claimed that the California net neutrality bill is “illegal.”
“In fact, just last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reaffirmed the well-established law that state regulation of information services is preempted by federal law,” Pai said. “Last December, the FCC made clear that broadband is just such an information service.”
Moreover, Pai said that bureaucrats, lawyers and politicians cannot run the internet. The FCC decided last year that engineers, entrepreneurs and technologies should run it.
“We’re going to fight to make sure it stays that way,” he said.
California Sen. Wiener Hits Back at Pai
California state Sen. Scott Wiener, co-author of Senate Bill 822, hit back at the FCC chairman and defended the legislation.
Wiener said the state’s net neutrality protections are “necessary and legal because Chairman Pai abdicated his responsibility to ensure an open internet.”
In addition, the state senator emphasized, “Unlike Pai’s FCC, California isn’t run by big telecom and cable companies.”