The Justice Department has given up its legal challenge to California’s net neutrality rules, the agency said in a lawsuit on Monday.
The move removes a major hurdle that had prevented state rules from taking effect and represents a significant departure from the Trump administration’s approach to internet policy.
After the Federal Communications Commission led by Trump voted in 2017 to repeal the widely popular Obama net neutrality protections at the federal level, California lawmakers passed a law the following year that aimed to restore some of these protections within their own borders .
But the Trump administration has defied California rules, as have Internet providers, including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter Communications (the lawsuit is pending and a hearing is scheduled for February 23).
The Biden government’s decision to abandon the fight against net neutrality, which comes in the wake of President Joe Biden’s appointment as FCC President-in-Office, Jessica Rosenworcel, signals that it can take a tougher approach to companies that supply Americans Internet access.
“I am pleased that the Justice Department has withdrawn this case,” said Rosenworcel in a press release.
“When the FCC, despite my objection, reversed its net neutrality policies, states like California sought to fill the void with their own laws. In taking this step, Washington is listening to the American people, who overwhelmingly support an open Internet, and is setting a course to once again make net neutrality the country’s law, “she said.
Public opinion polls have consistently shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans – including Republicans and Democrats – support net neutrality, a policy that prevents Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast from “limiting” customers’ Internet speeds or forcing certain sites to pay more “. expressways.”
In addition to fighting net neutrality, the Trump administration has mainly deregulated the sector. Under the leadership of former FCC president Ajit Pai, the agency faced criticism for being overly friendly to companies under its supervision, doing little to improve Americans’ Internet speed or ability to access it.
Despite industry arguments that deregulation promotes innovation and cost savings that benefit consumers, the United States recently moved out of the top 10 countries at internet speeds worldwide, according to a report by DecisionData.org, and Americans still pay a lot more for this service.