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Bullock cheers court ruling upholding Montana net-neutrality provision

Posted at 2:42 PM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 16:42:16-04

Gov. Steve Bullock praised Tuesday a federal's court's decision upholding a Montana rule requiring all state telecom contractors to adhere to net-neutrality practices.

“From the beginning we said that if the federal government won’t protect our access to a free and open internet, it would be up to the states. Montana was the first to act, setting off a nationwide movement of executive orders and state laws to protect the open internet. Today the D.C. Circuit confirmed that states can protect their citizens when the federal government fails them,” Bullock said in a statement.

The D.C Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in favor of the Federal Communications Commission's decision to deregulate large telecom companies, which supporters of net neutrality said would lead to slower loading for websites that can't afford to pay a premium.

Tucked in the ruling, however, judges also struck down a provision that blocked state and local governments, such as Montana, from enacting net-neutrality laws themselves.

In Montana, to get a state contract, service providers must not "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," according to Bullock's office.

The rule does not apply to providers operating in the private sector. That kind of regulation would likely need approval by the Montana Legislature.

Governors in New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Hawaii and Rhode Island made similar rules.