Don’t look now but Montana is leading the charge on net neutrality. This was made clear after Gov. Steve Bullock signed an executive order putting the Treasure State at the forefront of the national battle, a move that’s since been echoed by the governors of New York and New Jersey. Each of the orders in question essentially state that internet providers doing business with the state can’t charge more to deliver particular content faster to any customer in the state. The efforts are a direct response to the FCC’s recent decision to dismantle Obama-era regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content.
Republican Commissioners on the FCC outvoted their Democratic counterparts 3-2 to undo the regulations, making it even more noticeable that it was a traditionally red state that moved so aggressively to protect them. Similar bills had been introduced in New York and Rhode Island, but Montana was the first state where a governor used an executive order to accomplish this, as reported by the NY Times last week. More governors around the country are likely to pursue similar steps, particularly in those states where first amendment protection is a higher political priority. It also appears legal challenges to the order are imminent, as we are in new territory regarding the net neutrality battle at both the state and federal level.