Montana requires internet neutrality for state contracts

Montana governor Steve Bullock signing executive order protecting net neutrality

Montana governor Steve Bullock signing executive order protecting net neutrality

Montana's governor on Monday signed an executive order that will require all internet and data providers to adhere to net neutrality principles if they want to be awarded state contracts.

The FCC's wildly unpopular decision to kill net neutrality has sent legislators, companies and individuals scrambling for ways to keep the Obama era regulations in place. "If you want to do business with Montana", the Governor said in the interview, "there are standards on net neutrality you will have to follow". The state of Montana is one of the biggest consumers of internet services in our state.

The order directs that to receive a contract from the State of Montana for providing telecommunications services, the service provider must not block lawful content, throttle, impair or degrade lawful internet traffic on the basis of internet content, engage in paid prioritization, or unreasonably interfere or disadvantage the users' ability to select, access, and use broadband internet access service. "Today we became the first state in the nation to actually do something to safeguard internet freedom", Bullock said Monday in a Twitter post.

The executive order notably sets the terms on which the State of Montana will be making purchases and makes a preference for a free and open internet clear. This isn't a law as such, and it's regulating government contracts, not the providers directly. A year ago the Federal Communications Commission reversed net neutrality rules put in place in 2015 under the Obama administration, arguing the move would spur innovation and the economy. Jon Tester, a Democrat, opposed it. He invited other governor and lawmakers across the United States to duplicate his order.