Montana’s Governor Issues an Executive Order to Force Net Neutrality In His State

Montana governor Steve Bullock signing executive order protecting net neutrality
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Montana governor Steve Bullock signing executive order protecting net neutrality
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Montana governor Steve Bullock

The FCC’s order to unravel net neutrality has a brand-new enemy: the governor of Montana.

Update: The executive order is now official.  Here’s our article from this morning.

The FCC’s repeal of net neutrality has become more difficult, thanks to a very determined governor.  Just this morning, Montana governor Steve Bullock announced an executive order to protect net neutrality in his state.

The order would make it illegal for any ISP to block or throttle any legal website.  It would also prohibit any ‘paid prioritization’ or ‘fast lanes,’ something the FCC recently authorized.

The executive order would apply to any ISP or access provider with a state contract, specifically one signed or renewed after July 1st, 2018.  Currently, that includes ISPs CenturyLink, Verizon, AT&T, and Charter, all of whom rely on state contracts to deliver internet, TV, and other services to Montana residents.

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Bullock indicated that he would officially sign the order this afternoon.  An official statement on the matter has not been issued, but we’re expecting something to be posted on the official Montana website soon.

The executive order has now been posted (here). 

That decision follows lawsuits from 22 different state attorneys general.  The group is rallying to prevent the FCC’s rollback, and preserve net neutrality in their state.

Against the rising protests, Republicans in Congress drafted a bill that would expressly prohibit states from enacting their own net neutrality laws.  All of which sets the stage for a states’ rights rebellion for the future of internet delivery.

Earlier, cocksure FCC chairman Ajit Pai indicated that his agency’s rollback was immune to legal challenges.

That remains to be seen, especially given a concerted legal challenge from tech heavyweights like Google, Facebook, Spotify, and dozens of other tech giants.

Beyond that, the FCC’s rollback remains extremely unpopular among Americans, according to multiple polls.  That seemed to matter little to Pai, though ignoring that pushback could be dangerous.  Already, Democrats are sensing an important midterm election issue, and moving the chess pieces accordingly.

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As for the people actually using the internet, the reaction has spilled into hostility.  Just recently, Ajit Pai was forced to cancel his longstanding keynote interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  It later emerged that numerous death threats had prompted the cancellation, with officials judging Vegas too dangerous for the Commissioner.

Earlier, Pai complained about death threats and protests outside his home.  Neighbors also found themselves clogged by angry crowds.

Meanwhile, media companies — including major music platforms like Spotify — are undoubtedly watching this situation closely.

The end of net neutrality could usher in major price hikes for media platforms, especially since access is critical for their business models.  Indeed, slowdowns for the likes of Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube could costs billions — and ISPs may be strategizing on the right price for prioritized access.

Stay tuned.