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Montana governor signs executive order to keep net neutrality in the state

Montana governor signs executive order to keep net neutrality in the state

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Montana’s governor signed an executive order today that would force internet service providers with state contracts to abide by net neutrality rules, even while the FCC has repealed those rules nationally.

Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, said in a tweet announcing the order that “Montana’s future depends on a free and open internet,” and noted that it was the first state in the country to attempt the plan, which would go into effect July 1st. The New York Times reports that several major service providers, including Charter, AT&T, and Verizon, operate with state contracts.

To obtain a state contract after July 1st, any service provider will have to follow core tenets of net neutrality, and agree to not block or degrade content, or allow for paid prioritization plans.

While the idea will likely be a hit with net neutrality advocates, and a move that other states may consider replicating, it’s not clear how it will fare in practice. When the FCC passed its repeal of net neutrality rules late last year, the agency specifically included a provision that would block states from creating their own rules. Montana’s order, then, would seem ripe for a legal challenge.

Officials in states around the country have already pledged to fight for net neutrality rules in their jurisdictions and nationally. Most visibly, 22 attorneys general signed on to a lawsuit last week to block the FCC from repealing the rules.