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WASHINGTON -- Most efforts underway to restore so-called net neutrality face big obstacles and would take many months, if not years, to succeed.

But in Montana, the governor has used the stroke of a pen to bring the rules to broad parts of his state.

Through an executive order, Gov. Steve Bullock declared Monday that any Internet service provider with a state government contract cannot block or charge more for faster delivery of websites, two core aspects of net neutrality, to any customer in the state.

Many major landline and mobile broadband providers hold government contracts in the state. The new requirements apply to new and renewed contracts signed after July 1, 2018.

In December, the Federal Communications Commission rolled back rules meant to protect a free and open Internet. The new rules say states cannot create net neutrality laws. The agency did not respond to a request for comment about the Montana action.

But Bullock, a Democrat, and some public interest advocates who have advised him argue that the state has wide latitude to set conditions to any contracts with the government -- one of the biggest customers in most cities and states -- to get around the FCC's restrictions.

Though the order applies only to Montana, it could have a spillover effect as seen with auto emissions rules and cybersecurity notification laws that began in a few states but eventually became national standards.

Business on 01/23/2018

Print Headline: Net neutrality decreed in Montana

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