Vermont has joined four other states in requiring broadband providers to follow net neutrality principles as a condition of contracting with state agencies.
This week, Governor Phil Scott signed an executive order prohibiting broadband providers that contract with agencies from blocking or throttling content, applications and services, and from charging companies higher fees for prioritized delivery. The order also prohibits providers from "unreasonably" interfering with the ability of customers and web companies from reaching each other online.
The order directs state agencies to revise their contracting procedures by no later than April 1.
With Scott's move, Vermont joins Montana, New York, New Jersey and Hawaii in attempting to draw on the state's power to enter into contracts as a vehicle for restoring the net neutrality rules.
Last December, the Republican-controlled FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules, which prohibited carriers from blocking or throttling traffic and from engaging in paid prioritization, among other restrictions. The agency also voted in December to prohibit states from creating or enforcing their own state-specific net neutrality regulations.
It's not yet known whether courts will uphold the FCC's repeal order -- including the prohibition on state rules. But even if the FCC's order is upheld in its entirety, state governors may still be able to incorporate net neutrality principles in contract terms.
State officials aren't just relying on executive orders. Lawmakers in 25 states -- including California, Oregon, Nebraska and Washington -- have also introduced bills that would reinstate the net neutrality rules. Additionally, attorneys general in 22 states and the District of Columbia are challenging the FCC's repeal in court.