It looks like VoIP services may not be regulated after all. The California Legislature recently passed SB 1161, a bill that prohibits commission regulation over Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), except at a federal level. The bill has gained support from major technology companies, including, Comcast, Microsoft, AT&T, Cisco Systems and more. Now the state just has to wait for Governor Brown’s authority in order to make it official. However, while there is an overwhelming amount of support for this bill, there is still some opposition.
In fact, the Greenlining Institute has predicted that by deregulating VoIP, the legislation could limit consumer protections. According to IVN, the Institute has said that deregulation could carry many negative consequences.
Susan Crawford, a professor at Harvard Law School has agreed with this theory as well, saying that the deregulation will leave users vulnerable. She has stated that California needs a protector, mainly because there are only a few large companies that are controlling the wires.
Another concern is that SB 1161 was written by Senator Alex Padilla, who has received funding through the major tech companies. However, Padilla has argues that the bill is absolutely necessary for telecom to function freely amidst economic tough times.
Author and consultant Larry Downes also believes that the bill will be essential to VoIP’s success, as well as other internet services. Downes claims that having the FCC oversee VoIP may be more than enough.
Regardless of opposition, the bill will go on to Jerry Brown’s desk. CNET recently reported that Brown would be supported by most of Silicon Valley if he was to sign the bill into law. Major technology companies in the area are strongly opposed to government regulation of the internet in general, so they are asking for Brown’s support now. Brown might have a hard time being opposed to the law, especially with tech companies assuring him that the law would ensure “new innovations.”
In the meantime, tech companies and VoIP users alike will just have to wait and see if the bill will become law. As each side’s position grows stronger and stronger, Brown is sure to have a difficult decision to make about VoIP regulation.