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California Senate passes net neutrality bill

Whether an eventual law would survive an FCC challenge is another story.
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Dusty Pixel photography via Getty Images

California just edged closer to establishing its own net neutrality law in the wake of the FCC's decision to kill federal measures. The state Senate has passed a bill that would not only institute rules like those the FCC implemented in 2015, but would forbid the practice of zero-rating services to give them advantages over competitors. Much like Oregon and other states making similar legal moves, internet providers would have to honor these neutrality rules if they wanted government contracts.

The bill still has to clear the state Assembly before it can be signed into law.

If that happens, the big question is whether or not the FCC will challenge the rules. In California's case, it seems likely -- the FCC could argue that the rules directly contradict federal-level regulation. Some states, such as New York, have tried using executive orders that rely on the government contract clause rather than instituting separate rules. Those might be more difficult for the FCC to unwind.

If there's any certainty, it's that the official June 11th death of net neutrality won't be the end of the battle. With numerous states both implementing neutrality rules and filing a lawsuit, ISPs could easily run into trouble if they simply ignore state policies. Any FCC attempts to undo state rules, meanwhile, could easily turn into drawn-out legal fights.

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