DOJ drops lawsuit challenging California's net neutrality law

The acting FCC chair heralded the decision as a sign of things to come.

The U.S. Justice Department (DoJ) dropped its lawsuit against California’s net neutrality law on Monday, reports Reuters, foreshadowing the Biden administration’s approach to internet regulation.

Acting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Jessica Rosenworcel welcomed the news as a sign that open internet rules would soon be reinstated across the country.

"When the FCC, over my objection, rolled back its net neutrality policies, states like California sought to fill the void with their own laws," Rosenworcel said in a press statement. "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California state legislators passed their own net neutrality law in 2018 shortly after the FCC under Trump repealed the outsized internet protections passed by the Obama administration. The rules prohibit internet service providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down certain websites or services in the state. It also bans zero-rating practices deemed as anti-competitive or preferential.

California’s action was met with a series of legal challenges that have kept the law on hold. First, the DoJ under Trump responded by filing a lawsuit against the state arguing that the law was illegal and an attempt to “frustrate federal policy.” A separate challenge to the California law from industry groups is pending, with a hearing set for February 23rd.