The state of Montana has taken net neutrality into its own hands.
On Monday, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) signed an executive order that will require Internet service providers with state contracts to abide by core aspects of net neutrality. Broadband providers that hold these state government contracts, such as AT&T (t) and Verizon (vz), will not be able to block any websites or charge more for faster speeds.
The order goes into effect immediately, but companies will have a six-month grace period to ensure compliance. The requirements will apply to new and renewed government contracts signed after July 1.
While other states, including New York, Rhode Island, and California are seeking to introduce their own bills, Montana is the first to push back against the FCC’s ruling to repeal net neutrality. There is a risk of legal challenges to Bullock’s order, as the FCC’s new rules stipulate that states cannot create their own laws on net neutrality. However, the state, as one of the largest consumers of Internet services in Montana, has leverage to set the conditions of contracts with Internet providers.
Bullock is encouraging other governors to follow suit, going so far as to promise personally emailing them a copy of the framework Montana is using; 21 U.S. state attorneys general have concurrently filed legal papers to challenge the FCC’s decision. The new FCC rules are not yet in effect.