knot in network cable (Steve Heap/

State, city IT buyers line up behind net neutrality

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order Jan. 24  directing state agencies to abstain from entering into any contracts with internet service providers that do not “agree to adhere to net neutrality principles.”

No agencies may sign contracts for internet, data or telecommunications services with ISPs that “block, throttle, or prioritize internet content or applications or require that end users pay different or higher rates to access specific types of content or applications.”

"The [Federal Communication Commission]'s dangerous ruling goes against the core values of our democracy, and New York will do everything in our power to protect net neutrality and the free exchange of ideas," Cuomo said in a statement, referring to the FCC’s 3-2 vote last year to do away with Obama-era rules requiring ISPs to treat all internet traffic equally.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed a similar executive order on Jan. 22 that also requires ISPs contracting with the state to follow open-internet policies.

Bullock said he would provide a framework to any state looking to follow the lead of Montana and New York.

“To every governor and every legislator in every statehouse across the country, and to every small business and every Fortune 500 company that wants a free and open internet when they buy services: I will personally email this to you,” he said.

Other state leaders have announced their own plans to protect net neutrality, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who said in a press conference last year that the state would use “every tool in its tool box” to keep the internet open.

This debate is occurring at the local level, too. Prior to FCC’s vote last December, a group of 50 mayors from across the country submitted a letter to the agency asking for it to uphold the net neutrality rules.

“The FCC must maintain and enforce the 2015 Open Internet Order, to ensure the principles of openness, freedom, and innovation continue to drive the American economy into the twenty-first century,” the letter read.

Newark, N.J., which operates its own high-speed fiber-optic network will continue to guarantee equal access to the internet for local business and residents,  Mayor Ras J. Baraka said.

“In response to Trump’s anti-city policies, municipalities around the country are taking control of their own destinies,” Baraka said. “Newark is taking the lead on Net Neutrality.”

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.

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