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Calif. Bill Would Codify How FCC Defines 'Digital Discrimination'

California could be first in the nation to codify the FCC’s definition of digital discrimination into state law. Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D) introduced AB-2239 on Wednesday, the California Alliance for Digital Equity said Thursday. “This bill would state the intent…

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of the Legislature to adopt subsequent legislation that codifies a definition of ‘digital discrimination of access’ in state law that conforms to the definition adopted by the Federal Communications Commission,” said a legislative digest on the measure. In a November order (see 2311150040), the FCC defined “digital discrimination of access” as “policies or practices, not justified by genuine issues of technical or economic feasibility, that (1) differentially impact consumers' access to broadband internet access service based on their income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion, or national origin or (2) are intended to have such differential impact.” Defining digital discrimination could help move a proceeding on digital redlining at the California Public Utilities Commission, said Shayna Englin, California Community Foundation director-digital equity initiative, in an interview. The proceeding stalled amid argument about the definition, said Englin. CPUC digital redlining rules would guide the agency in the years ahead as it distributes $8 billion state and federal broadband funding, she said. Englin predicted a fight between digital equity advocates and the telecom industry, which is expected to oppose AB-2239. The California Broadband and Video Association is reviewing the legislation, said a spokesperson for the state cable group. USTelecom declined to comment. The Los Angeles City Council passed a similar law at the local level last month.