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U.S. appeals court upholds California net neutrality law

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Calif. net neutrality law upheld in court

A U.S. court of appeals on Friday upheld California’s net neutrality law, saying a 2017 decision by the Federal Communications Commission to reverse federal Internet protections could not bar state action.

In February 2021, the Justice Department withdrew its legal challenge to California’s law, which is aimed at protecting the open Internet.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected a challenge from telecom and broad industry groups, ruling that since the FCC reclassified Internet services as more lightly regulated information services, the commission “no longer has the authority to regulate in the same manner that it had when these services were classified as telecommunications services.”

California’s law barring Internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes, was passed in 2018 but took effect only last year.

The FCC under President Barack Obama, a Democrat, adopted net neutrality rules in 2015. These were overturned in 2017 by the FCC under President Donald Trump, a Republican. California’s legislature responded by adopting a state law requiring net neutrality in August 2018.

The Justice Department withdrew its challenge soon after President Biden, a Democrat, took office.

Supporters of net neutrality argue that the protections ensure a free and open Internet. Broadband and telecom trade groups contend that their legal basis from the pre-Internet era is outdated and that they discourage investment.

— Reuters

HP wins billion-dollar fraud case in Britain

Technology company Hewlett-Packard Enterprise won a multibillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against a British businessman it accused of fraud after purchasing his software business, Autonomy, a decade ago.

The decision by Britain’s High Court of Justice also removes a hurdle for the potential extradition to the United States of Autonomy’s founder, entrepreneur Mike Lynch.

Hewlett-Packard bought Autonomy in 2011 for $11 billion but was forced to write off most of its value the following year, in a corporate debacle that sparked a boardroom shake-up.

In its lawsuit, the company accused Lynch and Autonomy’s former chief financial officer, Sushovan Hussain, of artificially inflating the company’s revenue and committing a “deliberate fraud over a sustained period of time.”

High Court judge Robert Hildyard delivered a summary of his conclusions in court, saying HP had “substantially won” its claim against the pair for $5 billion in damages.

Lynch’s legal team said that the decision was “disappointing” and that he plans to appeal.

The case, believed to be Britain’s biggest civil fraud trial, went to court over nine months in 2019. Hussain was convicted earlier in a U.S. court and sentenced to five years in prison.

Lynch has been battling extradition to the United States, where he faces separate criminal charges.

— Associated Press

Kia is recalling more than 410,000 vehicles in the United States to fix a problem that can stop the air bags from inflating in a crash. The recall covers certain Forte small cars from the 2017 and 2018 model years, as well as Sedona minivans and Soul small SUVs from 2017 through 2019. The electric Soul also is included. The Korean automaker says the air bag control computer cover can contact a memory chip and damage the electrical circuit. That could stop the air bags from inflating.

The United States on Friday said it has sufficient information to determine that Malaysian palm oil producer Sime Darby Plantation uses forced labor and that the firm's goods are subject to seizure. Malaysian factories making a range of products, such as medical gloves and palm oil, have increasingly come under scrutiny over allegations that they abuse foreign workers, a significant part of the manufacturing workforce.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced that it had finalized a rule that will give oil refiners more time to comply with biofuel blending mandates, including those from previous years. The agency is working to finalize proposed biofuel blending requirements for 2020, 2021 and 2022. Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, oil refiners must blend billions of gallons of biofuels or buy compliance credits from those that do.

— From news services