The state of Montana will refuse considering net neutrality violators for state contracts, the office of Governor Steve Bullock said Tuesday, adding that the Governor signed a new executive order containing that provision. The move is an attempt to directly oppose the United States Federal Communications Commission that voted to revoke the 2015 net neutrality protections last month. The mid-December decision contains a clause that prevents states from implementing their own legislation meant to secure the future of the open Internet but Montana's unwillingness to do business with telecoms who violate such principles isn't something that the regulator can affect. Montana is the first state to have directly opposed the FCC's net neutrality repeal with an executive order. New York recently signaled it's preparing a similar move and more Democrat-led states are expected to follow suit in the coming months.
Besides refusing to award government contracts to net neutrality violators, any such agreements Montana signs with Internet service providers will also contain a clause mandating they adhere to the principles of the neutral web for the duration of their projects, state officials said. Governor Bullock openly called for other states to implement similar measures in order to pressure ISPs into sticking to the principles of the open Internet even after the FCC stopped requiring them to do so, adding that Montana will provide them with a framework that can easily be followed. Governor Bullock believes the move will yield some success as "Montana is one of the biggest consumers of Internet services" in the country and should hence be capable of effectively pressuring ISPs to honor all net neutrality principles.
The net neutrality repeal has already been challenged in a number of courts across the United States and will be the subject of multiple trials later this year. ISPs aren't expected to start seriously testing the limits of the freedom provided to them by the FCC in the coming months so as to avoid public backlash. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai repeatedly argued the Title II protections discourage network investments, consequently hurting innovation and stifling job growth on a nationwide level, though his opponents are quick to point out such claims are yet to be backed by any evidence.