The Department of Justice (DOJ) has withdrawn a lawsuit challenging California’s net neutrality rules.
Net neutrality rules were passed during the Obama administration, with widespread support from companies, tech advocates and citizens. In short, net neutrality ensures a company can’t discriminate against a certain type of internet traffic just because it may have a financial motivation to do so. For example, Comcast would not be allowed to charge more for access to Netflix, just because Netflix competes against Comcast’s media properties.
Under the Trump administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines to repeal net neutrality. A coalition of companies sued to overturn the ruling, but the court upheld the FCC’s right to repeal. At the same time, however, the courts also ruled that the FCC could not prevent individual states from establishing their own net neutrality legislation.
California was quick to pass its own rules and, despite the court’s initial ruling, the FCC sued to try to block California’s efforts. With a change of administration, however, the DOJ has withdrawn its suit against California.
In a statement, acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel praised the DOJ’s decision:
I am pleased that the Department of Justice has withdrawn this lawsuit.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. 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.
Many are expecting federal net neutrality rules to be re-established, now that the White House is once again under Democratic control. The DOJ dropping its lawsuit seems like a first step in that direction.