California Could Soon Have Its Own Version of the Internet

"Others note that California’s rules aren't radical departures from how the internet already works. "I think that California, like Brussels, certainly might set the bar for compliance on several important tech issues," says Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University. "But this might not lead to balkanization in the way we’re seeing in China and Russia."

In the case of net neutrality, the purpose of the rules is to avoid fragmentation by ensuring that people's ability to access content doesn't vary from one broadband provider to the next. Stanford University law professor Barbara van Schewick points out Europe had a patchwork of different net neutrality rules until the EU passed more unified regulations in 2015. The patchwork era of net neutrality in Europe didn't result in fragmentation, van Schewick argues.
 
"I think the more likely outcome in our system is national legislation as lawmakers heed industry complaints over facing a 'patchwork' of laws," says Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington specializing in privacy and cyber law. "A lot of folks see privacy legislation as nigh inevitable.""