Tech Newsletter: Net Neutrality’s ‘Major Victory’

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Welcome to the Tuesday edition of Internet Insider, where we dissect tech and politics unfolding online.

TODAY:

  • Analysis: California’s ‘major victory’ for net neutrality kickstarts the conversation for 2022
  • Gigi Sohn, Biden’s progressive FCC pick, to get Senate committee vote
  • Dan Bongino permanently suspended from YouTube

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A person protesting in favor of net neutrality, holding a sign that says'Keep the Net Free'

BREAK THE INTERNET

California scored a ‘major victory’ for net neutrality. What comes next?

Analysis

Late last week, California scored a “major victory for internet users” when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a legal challenge from telecommunications groups that were trying to halt the state’s “gold standard” net neutrality law. 

The law has been mired in a legal battle for years. It started way back in 2018 when the Justice Department, then under the Trump administration, joined with the telecom groups to fight it. 

California’s law was hailed as a “gold standard” for other states to follow if they wished to enact their own net neutrality laws in the absence of ones at the federal level in the wake of the FCC’s repeal. 

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But after many twists and turns the state drew a legal victory last year when a district court judge denied the telecom groups request for a preliminary injunction over the law. 

The telecom groups appealed that decision, and both sides engaged in oral arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last September. On Friday, the court of appeals found that the district court in February “correctly denied the preliminary injunction.” 

The question becomes: What comes next

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel seemed to signal the path forward on Friday in a tweet where she celebrated the California decision, saying the U.S. “once again” need to “make it the law of the land.” 

It’s been widely expected that the FCC—once it finally has a full slate of commissioners and a Democratic majority (more on that below)—will seek to restore net neutrality rules. 

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With California’s law, generally seen as broader than the FCC’s original 2015 Open Internet Order, standing up to a legal challenge, it now stands to reason that the FCC could seek to mirror those kind of protections in its potential revival of net neutrality. 

There’s also the open question as to how other state-level laws proceed in the wake of the decision in California. 

There has even been talk about a law from Congress, with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) once again promising in the wake of California’s decision to introduce a net neutrality bill soon.

Between the FCC inching closer to being fully staffed and the news from California, it’s looking like 2022 is going to be full of net neutrality news

—Andrew Wyrich, deputy tech editor

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Gigi Sohn, Biden's FCC nominee, speaking at her confirmation hearing.

INTERNET RIGHTS

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Gigi Sohn, Biden’s progressive FCC pick, to get Senate committee vote

Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s FCC nominee, is scheduled to have a vote on her nomination tomorrow

The committee announced that Sohn and around a dozen other nominees—including Alvaro Bedoya, Biden’s choice to be the fifth Federal Trade Commission (FTC) commissioner—are scheduled to have votes.

While Sohn, a long-time public interest advocate and net neutrality supporter, has drawn rave reviews from advocacy groups and received a long list of endorsements from organizations, her confirmation process has been bumpy because of Republican objections.

You can read more about her confirmation process here

If she’s voted favorably in the Senate Commerce Committee, Sohn would face a vote before the full Senate.

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If she’s confirmed, she would give the FCC a full slate of commissioners for the first time during Biden’s presidency and give Democrats a 3-2 majority.

That majority would allow the FCC to tackle a number of different issues—such as restoring net neutrality rules and the FCC’s authority over the broadband industry—that would almost assuredly require a party-line vote.

—A.W. 


DAILY DOT PICKS


a television with a broken screen that shows dan bongino

BIG TECH

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Dan Bongino permanently suspended from YouTube

Dan Bongino was permanently suspended from YouTube after the platform accused the right-wing commentator of attempting to evade a prior suspension.

The conservative radio host previously had his popular YouTube channel suspended on Jan. 14 for falsely claiming that face masks were useless, a violation of the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy.

Yet Bongino would never have a chance to spread more misinformation on his main channel. In a statement to the Hill, a YouTube spokesperson said that Bongino uploaded a video to a secondary channel during his suspension.

As a result, both of Bongino’s channels have been permanently removed from YouTube. Bongino’s main channel boasted nearly 900,000 subscribers.

Mikael Thalen 

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*First Published: Feb 1, 2022, 10:32 am CST

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich is the deputy tech editor at the Daily Dot. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).

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