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A Governor Renews Net Neutrality Protections With the Stroke of a Pen

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From The Nation

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Montana's Steve Bullock comes up with simple step states can take to preserve Internet freedoms.


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When President Trump's Federal Communications Commission eliminated net-neutrality protections in December, members of Congress took up the arduous task of building bipartisan coalitions to support restoration of what is understood as "The First Amendment of the Internet." Legal teams scrambled to file challenges in the courts. Activists began organizing nationwide to insure that the struggle for a free and open Internet would be a 2018 election issue.

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And, in Montana, Governor Steve Bullock picked up a pen. On January 22, the Democratic governor signed an executive order requiring Internet service providers that operate in the state to embrace net neutrality principles in order to obtain lucrative state government contracts. "This is a simple step states can take to preserve and protect net neutrality," says the Montanan, who is the first governor to employ an executive order as a tool to renew net neutrality standards."We can't wait for folks in Washington, DC, to come to their senses and reinstate these rules."

Bullock, a former state attorney general who knows the law and who well understands the threat that scrapping net neutrality poses for rural regions, small towns and small cities across America, borrowed language from the FCC commissioners to make a case for his action. "When the FCC repealed its net neutrality rules, it said consumers should choose," he explained. "The state of Montana is one of the biggest consumers of internet services in our state. Today we're making our choice clear: we want net neutrality. It's good government, and our citizens who use online services rely on it."

Bullock's move represents a tech-savvy response to the challenge that was created when the FCC rejected appeals from consumer groups, civil rights organizations and democracy advocates who campaigned to "Save the Internet" by preserving net neutrality. As the governor's office explains: "The order directs that to receive a contract from the State of Montana for providing telecommunications services, the service provider must not block lawful content, throttle, impair or degrade lawful internet traffic on the basis of internet content, engage in paid prioritization, or unreasonably interfere or disadvantage the users' ability to select, access, and use broadband internet access service."

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