Within hours of California governor Jerry Brown’s signing of state net neutrality protections, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it will file a lawsuit. The new regulation, enacted Sunday, prevents Internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking specific content or applications, or charge companies for faster connections to users.
But the DOJ claims this is “attempting to subvert the Federal Government’s deregulatory approach” to the web, and warned that it would open legal proceedings against California, adding that the new law was “extreme and illegal.”
“Under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce – the federal government does,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions, via a statement. The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order.”
California, which is the world’s fifth largest economy, will now battle it out against Washington for the law’s future. The move is seen as significant in the divide over net neutrality, which has split lawmakers, politicians and tech leaders. The majority of the latter are heavily against the government’s deregulatory stance.
California is already fighting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over a pre-exemption clause in its 2017 repeal of net neutrality. Washington and Oregon have also passed statewide net neutrality laws. But California’s is the first to match the strict protections enacted by the Obama government.