Montana governor signs executive order to retain net neutrality

Montana governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order [text] on Monday that will make companies provide nondiscriminatory internet services in order to obtain a contract within the state.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced January 16 that he is urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to withdraw its new net neutrality rules.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet services providers must treat all data online the same and not charge more for access to certain sites or adjust the speed at which content is delivered based on what consumers pay.

Bullock's order, which will take effect on July 1, 2018, will apply to major broadband and landline providers like Charter, CenturyLink, AT&T and Verizon that hold contracts in the state. "The State of Montana is one of the biggest consumers of internet services in our state". The more states that do so, the larger the pressure there will be on ISPs.

Governor Bullock knows that his action, or even his method, alone will not be enough.

Google ($4.4 million), Amazon ($3.3 million) and Facebook ($3.1 million) spent a combined $10.8 million on lobbying issues including net neutrality protection. Governor Bullock's administration will offer the framework to other states who wish to follow.

Bullock, in a statement, alluded congressional Democrats efforts to overturn the repeal.

Obviously this isn't "neutral", which is why some are fighting against it, and the good news is that for those living in Montana, you guys are basically living in the first state to employ its own net neutrality rules.

Montana's government will most likely be sued over this, of course, and an executive order isn't ideal. "I think the internet is free speech in action, and they have really taken the power away from individuals", Shapiro said.

The FCC did not respond to StateScoop's request for comment. The outrage continued for another month, until 50 of the 51 state senators had voted to overrule the FCC.

Beyond New York, Washington, and Montana, a number of other state officials and lawmakers across the country, in both red and blue states, have vowed to fight the decision. However, a similar resolution would need to pass the House, and eventually be signed off by the president-a very unlikely prospect.

  • Joey Payne