Governor of Montana signs executive order banning state from doing business with non-neutral ISPs

Governor Steve Bullock [D-MT] has signed an executive order banning state agencies from procuring internet service from ISPs that violate net neutrality principles like throttling, blocking and paid prioritization.

The governor couched his order in terms of keeping the state competitive.

The order sets up an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, the FCC insists that it has the authority to ban states and cities from establishing public alternative networks. Since ISPs enjoy natural monopolies — there's only so many poles and sewers to go around — most cities have one or two ISPs, and if both of them refuse to adhere to net neutrality principles, the state would seemingly have to go without internet service altogether. The question will be whether one of the duopolies in a city with government offices will betray its network discrimination conspiracy with its "competitor" in order to land state contracts — or whether the state will build out its own government network, something that the FCC seems prepared to permit.

The other caveat is that the executive order contains some weasel words, permitting network discrimination when it is in service of "reasonable network management that is disclosed to the consumer" (ISPs have hidden all manner of trickery in the thick books of fine-print they distribute with their services).

"As the first governor in the country to implement action in the wake of the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality rules, Governor Bullock invited other governors and statehouses to join him. Governor Bullock's administration will offer the framework to other states who wish to follow. "To every governor and every legislator in every statehouse across the country, and to every small business and every Fortune 500 company that wants a free and open internet when they buy services: I will personally email this to you," Bullock continued.

Montana Says It Won't Do Business With Net Neutrality Violating ISPs [Karl Bode/Techdirt]

Executive Order 3-2018 [Office of the Governor/State of Montana]