California legislature passes bill that prohibits state VoIP regulation

HIgh-tech industry supports legislation, while consumer, union groups oppose it

The California legislation has passed a bill, SB 1161, that would prohibit the state from regulating VoIP or other Internet-based voice services. The bill now awaits the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who has not taken a position on the legislation.

The legislation, introduced by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles) in April, would prohibit "any department, agency, commission, or political subdivision of the state from enacting, adopting, or enforcing any law, rule, regulation, ordinance, standard, order, or other provision having the force or effect of law, that regulates VoIP or other IP enabled service."

California joins more than two dozen states that have enacted regulatory bans for VoIP services.

The state's high-tech industry actively lobbied for passage of the bill. Eve Bukowski, TechNet's California Executive Director, commented: "This legislation will help overcome a regulatory climate that would have involved long, drawn-out PUC [Public Utilities Commission] proceedings whose outcome is highly uncertain. We are thankful for Senator Padilla for his yeoman's work in working with all stakeholders to move this bill forward, and we look forward to Governor Brown signing it into law."

Mark Toney, executive director of TURN, a coalition of California consumer and labor groups, warned that the bill is the "most anti-consumer bill ever introduced in California because it permits the telecom industry to dictate the terms of its own regulation, or as the case would have it, deregulation….What the bill does is eliminate minimum standards for all telephone services that utilize VOIP (voice over internet protocol) or IP-enabled networks (internet protocol)."

For more:
- check out the bill
- and this statement
- and this opinion piece

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