The Justice Department dropped its 2018 lawsuit challenging California’s state net neutrality rules on Monday, removing one of the law’s major roadblocks preventing it from going into effect.
In 2017, the Trump Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the Obama-era internet regulations banning internet service providers, like AT&T and Verizon, from throttling or blocking traffic and implementing paid fast lanes. The following year, California passed its own law instituting net neutrality rules at the state level. That law was quickly challenged by the Trump-led Justice Department, which argued that California’s law was preempted by the FCC’s 2017 repeal.
“I am pleased that the Department of Justice has withdrawn this lawsuit. When the FCC, over my objection, rolled back its net neutrality policies, states like California sought to fill the void with their own laws,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement Monday. “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’s law has yet to go into effect due to separate legal challenges, independent of the Justice Department case. According to Reuters, another challenge to the law brought by industry groups is pending a February 23rd hearing.
Former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stepped down from the agency last month when President Joe Biden was inaugurated. Rosenworcel currently chairs the agency in an acting capacity, and it’s unclear when Biden will nominate an official replacement for Pai.