Montana governor’s executive order could force ISPs to follow net neutrality rules

The FCC’s wildly unpopular decision to kill net neutrality has sent legislators, companies and individuals scrambling for ways to keep the Obama-era regulations in place. A new bid by Montana Governor Steve Bullock would cut through much of the red tape and force internet service providers to abide by earlier net neutrality rules.

Bullock, a second-term Democrat, told The New York Times that he plans to sign an executive order today that would bar any ISP with a state government contract from blocking or charging added fees for access to an existing website. “If you want to do business with Montana,” the governor said in the interview, “there are standards on net neutrality you will have to follow.”

The new rule would impact any new or newly renewed contract inked after July 1 of this year. The list of providers that would likely be impacted includes some of the industry’s biggest names. AT&T, Charter, CenturyLink and Verizon all currently have contracts with the state. 

The executive order circumvents the lengthy processes currently facing other recently filed opposition, including a lawsuit filed last week by 22 state attorneys general. That same week, Mozilla filed a similar suit, and 49 Democratic senators outlined their own plan for helping restore the rules.

Like all of those planned actions, however, Bullock’s executive order is bound to face an uphill battle. Given the deep pockets of many ISPs, there are bound to be plenty of legal challenges. Of course, if the order does eventually make its way through, other states will likely attempt to duplicate its success.