Bullock and Montana's strategy of targeting procurement to enforce net neutrality rules could prove to be more successful than other states' efforts, said Daniel Lyons, a professor at Boston College Law School who specializes in telecommunications and administrative law.
Gov. Steve Bullock on Monday signed an executive order requiring successful recipients of state contracts adhere to certain principles. The State of Montana is a significant purchaser of internet services. According to Bullock, "This is a simple step".
The executive action only applies to Montana but could quickly trickle down to other states. Already, a Nebraska senator introduced a bill to preserve it in that state. The regulations will affect major providers like AT&T, Charter, CenturyLink, and Verizon, all of which have to do business with the state to some degree in order to serve major metropolitan areas.
Now Bullock is encouraging other governors and state legislators to follow his example.
The delay isn't necessarily the GAO's fault (it's always been underfunded) but it is a noted contrast to the way Pai's FCC barreled through the rule-making process to repeal net neutrality.More news: Netanyahu: US must mediate between Palestine and Israel
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"But a free and open Internet is no longer guaranteed", he continued.
A group of 22 attorneys general, including Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and led by Eric Schneiderman of NY, sued in federal court Wednesday to overturn the FCC decision. In a letter written to Representative Frank Pallone Jr., the GAO said it would review the "extent and pervasiveness of fraud and the misuse of American identities" during the process, in about five months' time.
Governor Bullock may have issued the order, but whether it sticks or not is a different ballgame.
"States have enormous discretion with regard to their power of purchasing", says Harold Feld, senior vice president at the advocacy group Public Knowledge. "I think the agency acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and we're taking them to court to stop this action".
The FCC did not respond to StateScoop's request for comment. And last week, 21 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia sued the FCC in an attempt to block the repeal.