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Baker interested in Montana’s net neutrality approach

  • Baker

  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker takes questions from members of the media during a news conference at the Statehouse in Boston In January 2017. AP File Photo



State House News Service
Monday, January 29, 2018

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker hopes to connect with the governor of Montana to hear more about how the western state is pressuring internet providers to abide by net neutrality standards.

The Federal Communications Commission in December reversed its 2015 policy requiring internet service providers to treat all traffic equally like a utility. The old rules were “heavy-handed,” the FCC said, while critics of the change warned that it could harm the free flow of information online.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, signed an executive order in January that his administration said “makes a preference for a free and open internet clear” in the state’s purchase of internet services. Vendors providing internet services to Montana may 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.

“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,” said Montana’s governor in a statement.

Baker said he spoke with Bullock late last week and hopes to catch up with him at a future National Governors Association meeting.

“I said, ‘Look, you know, we should talk a little bit about this when we’re at the NGA meeting,’” Baker said during his Monday appearance on WGBH radio’s “Ask the Governor” segment. The NGA has a winter meeting set for Feb. 23 to 26 in Washington, D.C.

The Senate earlier this year created the Special Committee on Net Neutrality and Consumer Protection led by Newton Democrat Cynthia Creem.

The governor on Monday noted there are limits to how the state can legally respond to the new rule from the federal agency.

“You can’t pass a law that supersedes a federal statute. Just saying. I mean, you can’t do that, which some people have been talking about,” Baker said.

Like Montana, Massachusetts is a major purchaser of internet services, and Baker has pushed the state to take a leading role on cyber-security measures.