Montana just became the first state to establish its own net neutrality rules since the Federal Communications Commission ended the popular policy in December.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) signed an executive order on Monday that requires all internet service providers (ISPs) seeking to renew or acquire new state contracts to abide by net neutrality. In essence, these companies will be barred from blocking websites or charging more for faster delivery of websites.
“If you want to do business with Montana, there are standards on net neutrality you will have to follow,” Bullock said.
Bullock signed the order in front of a high school computer class in Helena, reported the Billings Gazette.
Montana state, county and local governments have about $50 million worth of contracts with ISPs, including national companies like Verizon, AT&T, Charter and CenturyLink, per the Gazette.
When the FCC repealed its net neutrality rules earlier last year, “it said consumers should choose,” Bullock added. “The state of Montana is one of the biggest consumers of internet services in our state. We’re making our choice clear: We want net neutrality.”
Now Bullock is encouraging other governors and state legislators to follow his example.
“This is a simple step states can take to preserve and protect net neutrality,” Bullock stated. “We can’t wait for folks in Washington to come to their senses and reinstate these rules.”
Attorneys from more than 20 states and the District of Columbia have sued to block the federal repeal. State legislatures in California, New York and other areas have also introduced net neutrality bills. But Bullock is the first governor to taken action, The Associated Press reported.
An unidentified spokeswoman for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and USTelecom, which represents the broadband industry, complained about the executive order, saying Congress and not individual states should write the rules.
“We simply cannot have 50 different regulations governing our internet,” she told AP.