In the wake of the FCC voting to abandon all responsibility for net neutrality, one of the most likely future scenarios was that net neutrality would go to the states — creating a patchwork of laws and regulations that would make things annoying for everybody. Net neutrality requires your internet service provider to treat every website the same, and not charge more to load some sites faster, and is incredibly popular, so states have acted fast. Already, a Nebraska senator introduced a bill to preserve it in that state. Meanwhile, Montana Governor Steve Bullock made a bold unilateral move. He’s going to issue an executive order making Net Neutrality the law of the land if you want to do business with Montana’s government.
As the New York Times reports, Bullock, a Democrat, will be signing an executive order that requires any internet service provider doing business with Montana’s government to abide by the tenets of net neutrality. As that includes almost all of them, including prominent companies like AT&T and Charter, it would effectively guarantee net neutrality in the state:
“If you want to do business with Montana, there are standards on net neutrality you will have to follow,” Mr. Bullock said.
“There is a long history of government using its procurement power to get companies to adopt requirements and this is no different,” said Travis LeBlanc, the former enforcement chief for the F.C.C. during the Obama administration. “This action by Governor Bullock will provide immediate relief.”
Montana’s government will most likely be sued over this, of course, and an executive order isn’t perfect. If Montana gets a new governor — and Bullock will leave office in 2020 due to state term limits — that order can simply be reversed. Furthermore, the FCC has included language that would allow a lack of federal regulation to overrule any state regulation, although the legality of that provision is questionable. But if this executive order can survive legal challenges, it would pave the way for other states to do the same, and possibly make the quality of your internet dependent on just where you live.
(via the New York Times)