California lawmakers have voted to ban public internet access in the state, making it illegal for people to connect to the internet using a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.
The legislation is expected to pass the Assembly and Senate this week, and if signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, will become law next year.
The bill will also force internet service providers to offer online banking services, but not internet access, and will prevent internet service from being used to broadcast news.
Under the bill, Californians who do not have a smartphone or tablet can only use a “local, mobile device,” which is essentially a device that is connected to the same internet connection as a mobile phone or tablet.
Those who don’t have a mobile device can still use internet services from mobile phone carriers, including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.
However, those who do have a device must have an internet connection of at least 1 gigabit per second, which can be achieved by using a “specialized service,” such as a hotspot or a VPN.
The measure, which passed both chambers of the state legislature and is expected later this week in the Assembly, also bars Californians from being charged more than $5 per month for internet service, except for a limited set of internet service plans that are not subject to the cap.
Those who do pay for internet access must provide proof of residency, such as driving license, or proof of internet connection.
The internet ban is likely to face strong opposition from consumer groups and local governments.
The American Civil Liberties Union of California, which has fought against the ban for years, has been working to change the law in the wake of a series of high-profile cases of internet throttling.
In November, a federal appeals court ruled that the California internet ban violated the First Amendment, which protects the right to free speech.
It also ruled that broadband providers can block certain websites, such a The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing to block the state’s internet ban, has urged Californians to boycott Google and other large companies.
Google and other companies are also lobbying for the internet ban to be struck down.
“The internet is a public good, it’s not a private right,” said Chris Calabrese, policy director for the California Association of Telecommunications Companies, which represents Google.
“This bill gives people the ability to use the internet without fear of government censoring their speech.”