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OK, who had 'Montana' in the net neutrality state pool? Congratulations

Big Sky state first to pass mandate to bar throttling

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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Updated Montana has become the first US state to lay down its own net neutrality protections.

Governor Steve Bullock signed off Monday on an executive order declaring that, as of July 1, all ISPs that want to do businesses with state agencies must adhere to basic net neutrality tenets including bans on paid prioritization and throttling of lawful traffic.

Telcos that don't comply can still operate in Montana, but will be ineligible to receive any service contracts with government agencies.

"When the FCC repealed its net neutrality rules, it said consumers should choose. The State of Montana is one of the biggest consumers of internet services in our state," Bullock said in announcing the deal.

"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."

Among the requirements cited in the three-page order [PDF] are rules against blocking lawful content, allowing paid prioritization, and throttling content or applications "subject to reasonable network management." Carriers will have until July 1, 2018 to come under compliance with the order if they want to receive the government's business.

Bullock's ruling is the first formal action by a US state to mandate net neutrality protections after the FCC decided last year to rip up existing protections for netizens. Shortly after the decision was handed down, states began talking about individual efforts to maintain net neutrality rules within their borders. Before then, ISPs were leaning heavily on the federal regulator to stop states having their own rules.

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Attorneys general for a number of states have also filed legal challenges to the FCC decision. The Senate has also been mulling a law to re-implement net neutrality protections.

"There has been a lot of talk around the country about how to respond to the recent decision by Federal Communications Commission to repeal net neutrality rules, which keep the internet free and open. It’s time to actually do something about it,” Bullock said.

"This is a simple step states can take to preserve and protect net neutrality. We can’t wait for folks in Washington DC to come to their senses and reinstate these rules." ®

Updated to add

New York is following suit: Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on January 24 banning the US state's government from entering "any contracts for internet service unless the ISPs agree to follow net neutrality principles."

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