The Department of Justice (DoJ) has dropped a legal challenge to California’s net neutrality statute – a lawsuit filed by the Trump administration in 2018. The withdrawal of the lawsuit to block the state law provides an opportunity for net neutrality rules to return on a Federal level.

The California statute being challenged established statewide net neutrality laws after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed Obama-era net neutrality laws in 2018. At that time, DoJ said in its lawsuit that the legislation “unlawfully imposes burdens on the Federal government’s deregulatory approach to the internet.”

The Biden Administration’s Justice Department however is singing a different tune, with acting head of the FCC Jessica Rosenworcel praising the move.

“I am pleased that the Department of Justice has withdrawn this lawsuit,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “When the FCC, over my objection, rolled back its net neutrality policies, states like California sought to fill the void with their own laws.”

“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,” she added.

Central tenets of net neutrality – a regulatory subject fiercely debated over the past decade – include the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all internet communications equally, and must not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of equipment, source address, or method of communication.

California was one of more than 25 states to consider net neutrality protections after the FCC’s actions took effect in June 2018.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.