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Montana Governor Signs Order To Protect Net Neutrality

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A lot of talk among Democratic lawmakers has been to preserve net neutrality. Democratic senators were able to collect enough signatures to review the repeal of net neutrality but nothing has come out of it yet.

On Monday, Governor Steve Bullock of Montana took a step forward. He signed an executive order requiring state contractors to stick with net neutrality.

The Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality still hasn't taken effect nationwide.  

Preserving Net Neutrality

The executive order signed by Gov. Bullock prevents any internet service provider that does business with the state government from being able to block or charge more for faster web services to any customer in the state.

Service providers such as Charter, CenturyLink, AT&T, and Verizon are contracted by the state of Montana. This executive order would affect new or renewed contracts signed after July 1.

"If you want to do business with Montana, there are standards on net neutrality you will have to follow," said Bullock.

The FCC repealed neutrality back in December. Since the repeal there have been lawsuits by groups of states, state laws introduced to legislatures to preserve net neutrality, and a Silicon Valley trade group threatened to bring a lawsuit against the FCC.

Bullock says that the decision to sign the executive order is a simple step to preserve net neutrality, that states can't wait for lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to "come to their senses."

The executive order could be challenged in courts. Instead of applying net neutrality as law, Bullock made net neutrality a requirement for government contracts. Big money government contracts are being used to persuade the internet service providers to keep net neutrality.

One Step At A Time

The FCC's repeal still isn't law but there are groups that are fighting to keep it from affecting the internet. Earlier this month, Democrats in the Senate got enough support to vote a resolution of disapproval. This may not go very far — Republicans control the House and even if it were to go through Congress, Pres. Ronald Trump would have to sign it into law.

The Internet Association, a Silicon Valley Trade group representing Google, Amazon, Facebook, and others threatened the FCC with a lawsuit. Other lawsuits include one brought by 21 states and the District of Columbia against the FCC.

States have been introducing legislation to preserve net neutrality. New York currently has a bill in the State Assembly similar to the executive order signed in Montana, which says the state will not do business with any internet service providers that don't adhere to the principles of net neutrality. A bill in California seeks to ban blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.

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