California lawmakers gut ‘gold standard’ net neutrality bill
The California State Assembly had a proposal with the strongest net neutrality laws ever. But key amendments have “mutilated” the rules.
California will not be the poster child for the nation’s strongest set of net neutrality protections, as lawmakers in the state Assembly voted to cut many of the bill’s most powerful provisions.
The vote on Wednesday in a California Assembly committee hearing advanced a bill that implements some net neutrality protections, but it scaled back all the measures of the bill that had gone , which was . In a surprise move, the vote happened before the hearing officially started, after which the committee listened to public feedback.
“It is, with the amendments, a fake net neutrality bill,” said Sen. Scott Wiener from San Francisco, who introduced the original bill. He said the amendments “mutilated” the rules.
The move is a major blow to Democrats in Congress and in state houses across the country, who were looking to California to set a high standard, as they push to reinstate strong net neutrality protections to replace the Obama-era rules the Republican-led FCC voted to eliminate.
“It sends exactly the wrong message to other lawmakers across the country,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. “And it’s an embarrassment for both the Democratic party and the California State Legislature as a whole.”
California’s bill was considered the “gold standard” in net neutrality protections, because it went beyond the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality “bright line” rules by including provisions like a ban on zero-rating, a business practice that allows broadband providers like AT&T to exempt their own services from their monthly wireless data caps, while services from competitors are counted against those limits. The result is a market controlled by internet service providers like AT&T, who can shut out the competition by creating an economic disadvantage for those competitors through its wireless service plans.
Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, a Democrat from Los Angeles, expressed concern that the bill went too far and could have hurt consumers who would benefit in the short term from perks like zero-rated plans. He also worried the strict rules would hurt investment from broadband and wireless companies, which would be prohibited from experimenting with new business models in a changing market.
During the hearing, Santiago compared internet access to a bridge connecting a village, noting that he doesn’t see an issue with the bridge operator setting up fast lanes. He added that additional regulations would stymie the creation of new bridges, which he argued would result in lower tolls for everyone.
But critics like Fight For the Future say Santiago caved to pressure from industry lobbyists who had donated thousands of dollars to his campaigns.
Santiago denied those allegations.
“This is the legislative process at work,” he said in an email. “Any suggestions of actions taken today somehow being otherwise motivated are irresponsible, at best and insulting beyond that.”
In a prepared statement, he said he was concerned by “Trump’s rollback” of the net neutrality regulations. He added that, “California should once again stand as a back-stop of ‘the resistance’ by beating back both Trump’s administration and the billion-dollar corporations he’s trying to protect.” And he explained that’s why he supports the amended bill, which he said he is certain will eventually be challenged in court by the industry.
“Make no mistake,” he added. “The industry supports Trump’s actions and will do everything they can to sue and block implementation of net neutrality in California. When that happens, we will fight back.”
An AT&T representative said he opposed the Wiener bill and defended the practice of zero-rated plans. He kicked off his comments during the hearing with the company’s vow that it would not degrade high-speed internet service, and argued that the California bill, as it originally stood, went far beyond the Obama-era FCC’s 2015 net neutrality order.
“There’s no presentation of evidence of an actual problem,” he said. “You’re not blocked.”
Steve Carlson, speaking for the CTIA wireless trade group at the hearing, said he opposed the bill both in its original and amended form, arguing both bills go beyond the 2015 order. He called the fears over the lack of net neutrality laws “alarmist speculation.”
Wiener attempted to pull the bill from further consideration, but the committee overrode his decision and opted to continue the process of turning the amended bill into law.
Sen. Kevin de Leon had introduced a second net neutrality bill, and de Leon and Wiener had plans to. The committee denied amendments that would have linked the bills, so they could be considered together. Sen. de Leon wasn’t present at Wednesday’s hearing and his bill was never mentioned during the proceeding. A spokesman for the senator offered this statement: “I am very disappointed in the outcome of today’s hearing in the Assembly Communications Committee. However, Senator Wiener and I are committed to continue working with all parties to protect consumers and Net Neutrality in California.”
Sen. de Leon withdrew his bill when the committee indicated they would add the same amendments as Wiener’s bill, according to a person familiar with de Leon’s thinking.
The fight continues
Still, net neutrality supporters vow to continue the fight. A slew of individuals, consumer advocacy groups and other parties chimed in with support of Wiener’s bill and hailed the amendments as “hostile.” And California is still on track to pass some form of net neutrality protections. The bill still has another committee to face in the California Assembly before heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for signing.
Advocates such as Greer said there’s growing momentum for net neutrality and that the fight in California was just one piece of it.
“We are continuing to fight for net neutrality at the federal level in the House of Representatives, in the courts, and in other states,” she said. “We’ve succeeded in making net neutrality a mainstream political issue for the first time ever. And politicians need to decide right now which side of history they want to be on.”
More than two dozen other states, like New York, Connecticut, and Maryland, are also considering legislation to reinstate net neutrality rules. Oregon and Washington state have already signed their own net neutrality legislation into law. Governors in several states, including New Jersey and Montana, have signed executive orders requiring ISPs that do business with the state adhere to net neutrality principles.
Democrats in Congress are also still fighting to roll back the FCC’s repeal of the 2015 rules through a Congressional Review Act resolution, which allows Congress to nullify recently passed regulation. The measure won in the US Senate, but still needs passage in the House by the end of the year. And after that it needs to be signed by President Trump, which many believe is a long shot.
And there are also several lawsuits filed in federal appeals court challenging the FCC’s removal of the rules.
This story originally published at 10:39 a.m. PT.
Update, 1:17 p.m. PT: Adds a statement from Sen. Kevin de Leon.
Update: 3:56 p.m. PT: Adds statements from Assemblyman Miguel Santiago. Update: 5:42 p.m. PT: To include additional background on Sen. de Leon.
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They were all reacting to the moves by President Donald Trump’s administration to separate members of families that cross US borders illegally. The US government has sent thousands of children to holding camps around the country, images of which have sparked international outrage, even from within Trump’s own party.
On Monday, tech companies began issuing statements condemning the Trump administration’s actions. Someone even added Trump’s policies to Wikipedia’s entry on concentration camps (though it’s being reviewed).
Bowing to widespread pressure, executive orderto stop the separation of those immigrant families.signed an
Here’s what the companies have said:
Microsoft released a pair of statements after critics raised concerns about a January blog post in which the company wrote it was “proud” to supply tech services to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), including its Azure cloud computing service and the ability to use “deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification.”
As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border. Family unification has been a fundamental tenant [sic] of American policy and law since the end of World War II. As a company, Microsoft has worked for over 20 years to combine technology with the rule of law to ensure that children who are refugees and immigrants can remain with their parents. We need to continue to build on this noble tradition rather than change course now. We urge the administration to change its policy and Congress to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families.
In a second statement, Microsoft added:
Microsoft is not working with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement or US Customs and Border Protection on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border, and contrary to some speculation, we are not aware of Azure or Azure services being used for this purpose.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella went on to call the new policy “simply cruel and abusive, and we are standing for change.”
The three co-founders of the room and house rental service said in a joint statement that “ripping children from the arms of their parents is heartless, cruel, immoral and counter to the American values of belonging.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook said the Trump administration’s moves were “inhumane” and “need to stop.”
“It’s heartbreaking to see the images and hear the sounds of the kids. Kids are the most vulnerable people in any society. I think that what’s happening is inhumane, it needs to stop,” Cook told the Irish Times.
Cook was in Ireland to open a new office for Apple there. During the interview, he also explained why he’s spoken out so much on issues ranging from gay rights to immigration. “I’m personally a big believer in the way to be a good citizen is to participate, is to try to advocate your point of view, not to just sit on the sideline and yell or complain,” he said.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, said the stories and images of families being separated were “gut wrenching” and urged the US government to find a “better, more humane way.”
Box CEO Aaron Levie, who’s an avid Twitter user and often speaks his mind, called the Trump administration’s moves “un-American” and urged the government to address immigration in a “compassionate and scalable” way.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, himself an immigrant, said the stories coming from the border are heartbreaking. “Families are the backbone of society, ” Khosrowshahi tweeted. “A policy that pulls them apart rather than building them up is immoral and just plain wrong.”
Uber also said it’s working with the National Immigration Forum, the US Chamber of Commerce and the tech industry’s lobbying group FWD.us to push legislators to act. The company also said it’s reaching out to law firms with a “strong commitment” to offer pro bono work to help children affected by these policies. The company also donated $100,000 to Kids in Need of Defense (or KIND).
Lyft’s co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer issued statements saying their company would offer free rides to 12 organizations helping families separated at the border, such as The Texas Civil Rights Project, Kids in Need of Defense, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project. Lyft also said it’ll continue to support the ACLU with its Round Up & Donate program, which lets passengers round up the fare of their ride and donate the extra money to the organization.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also found the stories “heartbreaking” and recommended ways for her nearly 200,000 followers to help.
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised organizations working to provide families at the border with legal and translation services and documenting events there. He also urged people to donate to those groups, including the Texas Civil Rights Project.
Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, meanwhile, have donated to a Facebook campaign to help reunite children with their parents. More than 121,000 people have contributed nearly $5 million to the Facebook fundraiser, set up Saturday by a Silicon Valley couple.
Twitter / Square
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of both Twitter and the payments company Square, threw his support behind the popular hashtag #KeepFamiliesTogether before asking Twitter users for their suggestions about the “highest impact way to help.”
Denelle Dixon, chief operating officer at Mozilla, said in a statement the “cruelties” at the border go “far beyond disagreements over politics.”
The cruelties Americans are witnessing today at our borders go far beyond disagreements over politics. As an American, and separately as a mother, I am horrified beyond measure by stories of children mercilessly separated, and kept apart from, their parents. The United States once championed human rights around the world. If we want to keep our humanity and the world’s respect, the Administration must stop this practice immediately.
Marc Benioff, CEO of the business software giant Salesforce, tweeted out biblical verses, including “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” while linking to an article about the detention facilities.
The online marketplace’s CEO, Devin Wenig, said he supports border enforcement, but not separating families. “America’s moral and ethical leadership is at stake,” he tweeted.
Bastian Lehmann, the CEO of the delivery startup Postmates who’s an immigrant himself, said that “needlessly ripping families apart is cruel and undermines what this nation was founded upon.”
Chuck Robbins, CEO of networking equipment maker Cisco, called Trump’s policy“cruel.” “We need policies that reflect our values and do what’s right for society,” he tweeted.
The business technology giant urged Congress to pass legislation to fix some immigration issues, as well as to keep children with their families.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who stepped down from his daily duties at the social network earlier this year, called a video of the camps given to the press by the US Border Patrol “propaganda.”
Ron Conway, who co-founded the San Francisco-based seed stage investment firm SV Angel, tweeted support for a bill working through Congress called the Keep Families Together Act that would only separate kids from their families if they’re being trafficked or abused.
“#Republicans who fail to stop the #disgraceful separation of children from their parents will be #shamed by #history,” he tweeted.
FWD.us, a collection of tech companies lobbying for immigration reform, said it has been “supporting groups on the ground” in addition to sending members of its team to help immigrants affected by these policies.
We have seen first hand the damage and horror that separating and jailing children and families has inflicted on these kids. We have seen buses filled with shackled parents who are criminalized as a result of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, all of whom are set to be sentenced for seeking hope, safety and security in the United States. We have heard first-hand accounts from those in this region aware of the regular turning away of families at ports of entry trying to seek asylum.
You can read about its efforts here.
Andrew Ng, co-founder of the online education startup Coursera, said he’s “deeply disappointed” by the White House’s policies. “No one wants illegal immigration, but cruelty to children is unethical and we cannot justify it as ‘deterrence,'” he wrote.
Jonathan Schwartz, the former CEO of Sun and current head of the health management app CareZone, publicly asked Dorsey whether the Trump administration’s moves violate Twitter’s policies. Twitter has beenby harassing other users and using the service to threaten the lives of millions of people.
Amy Bohutinsk, COO of the online real estate company Zillow. disagreed with the White House policy, saying “We are better than this.”
Dropbox CEO Drew Houston called the practice of separating children from their parents “heartbreaking and cruel.”
Originally published June 19 at 11:05 a.m. PT.
Updated at 11:51 a.m. PT: Added statement by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg; at 12:15 p.m.: Added statements from Uber, eBay, Coursera and others; 1:15 p.m.: Added Lyft CEO and Zillow COO statements; 1:28 p.m.: Added Google CEO statement; 2:40 p.m.: Adds Ron Conway statement; 2:59 p.m.: Adds comment from Salesforce CEO; 3:08 p.m.: Added statement from Mozilla; 4:22 p.m.: Added details on efforts by Uber and FWD.us. 5:29 p.m.: Added information on efforts by Lyft.
Updated June 20 at 11:31 a.m. PT: Added that President Trump plans to reverse the policy of family separation; 12:38 p.m.: Added that Trump signed the order, and added comments from IBM and Postmates. />8:38 p.m.: Added Dropbox reaction.
: This isn’t the first time tech CEOs have disagreed with the president.
: How politics and tech are changing in the age of Trump.
Over $11M raised on Facebook to reunite families hit by Trump’s immigration policy
Meanwhile, Silicon Valley leaders have spoken out against the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward migrant families crossing into the US.
It turns out Facebook can help raise a lot of money.
Charlotte and Dave Willner set up a fundraiser on Facebook on Saturday to help reunite families affected by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” approach toward undocumented immigrants, USA Today reported Monday. Their original goal was to raise $1,500.
As of Wednesday, over $11 million has been raised from about 284,000 contributors. It’s the largest single fundraiser to date using Facebook Fundraisers, and a spokesman for the social network confirmed that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg both made donations.
The couple, both former Facebook employees who now work at other tech companies, felt “revulsed” by the more than 2,000 children separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border. The issue has also leaders. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, for instance, that his company “is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border.” Airbnb’s co-founders also spoke out, saying in a statement on Twitterthat the “US government needs to stop this injustice and reunite these families.” In January, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos donated $33 million to a scholarship fund for immigrants brought into the US illegally as children.
The funds raised in the Facebook campaign will benefit RAICES, a Texas nonprofit that provides free legal services to immigrants and refugees. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment but said in a Facebook post that “thanks is inadequate for the work these funds will make possible. We know it will change lives.”
CNET’s Marrian Zhou contributed to this report.
First published on June 18 at 10:11 p.m. PT.
Updates June 19 at 8:54 a.m. PT: Adds Airbnb co-founders statement, Facebook spokesman confirmation and RAICES statement. And 10:17 p.m. PT: Adds more information about the fundraiser. And 1:22 p.m. PT: Fundraising amount is now over $5 million.
Update, June 20 at 7:03 a.m. PT: Fundraising amount is now over $9 million.
Update, June 20 at 10:25 a.m. PT: Fundraising amount is now over $11 million.
Correction, June 19 at 10:17 a.m. PT: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Charlotte and Dave Willner.
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