Montana signs executive order forcing net neutrality

Montana signs executive order forcing net neutrality
Following the repeal of net neutrality by Federal Communications Commission, Montana Governor Steve Bullock brought it back to the state through an executive order.

The order said that any internet service provider with a government contract cannot block or charge more for faster delivery of websites to any customer in the state.  

“If you want to do business in Montana,” the Democratic Governor told the New York Times on Monday, when he signed the executive order, “there are standards on net neutrality you will have to follow.”

The new rule would affect any new or newly renewed contract inked after July 1 of this year. The list of providers that would likely be affected includes some of the industry’s biggest names. AT&T, Charter, CenturyLink and Verizon all currently have contracts with the state.

The action could face legal challenges from providers. If successful, however, it could be a method adopted by other states and become a national standard like auto emission rules, cybersecurity notification laws, or GMO food labels.

Bills are also being worked up in New York and Rhode Island using government contracts to regulate the practice of internet service providers.

The move is the latest effort by state lawmakers to push back against the Federal Communication Commission’s decision on December 15 to repeal net neutrality rules in a 3-2 vote. Net neutrality means internet service providers must treat all data on the web equally, regardless of the content, website, platform, application or method of communication. The FCC says states cannot create net neutrality laws.

Bullock told NYT the executive order was the fastest way to bring back net neutrality rules and to head off any decisions by internet service providers to begin throttling or charging websites more to reach customers.

The FCC argued net neutrality was preventing websites from investing trillions of dollars in network services. However, critics claim with net-neutrality regulations gone internet service providers will charge extra to prioritize traffic, effectively creating a ‘slow lane’ for smaller websites.

The executive order overrides the lengthy processes facing other recently filed opposition, including a lawsuit filed last week by 22 state attorneys general. Mozilla has also filed a similar suit, and 49 Democratic senators outlined their own plan for helping restore the net neutrality rules, originally established under the Obama administration.

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