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Montana governor orders net neutrality for state contracts

HELENA, Mont. — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed an executive order Monday requiring telecommunications companies with state contracts to follow net neutrality principles, saying Montana would continue expectations about a “free and open Internet” and called on other states to follow his lead.
The executive order states that Internet, data and telecommunications contractors doing business with the state must adhere to net neutrality principles as of July 1.
That means the service provider can't block lawful Internet traffic “or unreasonably interfere or disadvantage the users’ ability to select, access, and use broadband internet access service.”
“Our citizens rely on free and open internet,” Bullock said, telling students at Helena High School that protection of rights requires “constant vigilance.”
“We can’t let internet companies stand in the way of how Montanans talk,” the Democratic governor said.
Bullock said he was the first governor in the nation to implement such action in the wake of the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules and called on other other governors to join him.
Bullock made his announcement in a computer science class at the same school he attended as a teen, telling them that the loss of internet neutrality principles threatens the future of the students "standing in this very room.”
In December, the Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era “net neutrality” rules halting a principle that said all web traffic must be treated equally.
The move reportedly gives Internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T the ability to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit or charge more for faster speeds.
Gov. Steve Bullock takes "selfie" with Helena High School students Monday after announcing internet neutrality policy. (Photo: Courtesy)
Some fear there will be some control as to what people see and do online. But the broadband industry has reportedly promised that the internet experience for the public isn’t going to change.
More than 20 state attorneys general have joined a lawsuit challenging the FCC repeal, which is expected to go into effect this spring.

Bullock believed the executive order could withstand any legal challenges.
"We're simply setting the terms of purchase," he said.

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