Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott on Thursday signed Executive Order No. 02-18, which directs the Agency of Administration to ensure that all state contracts with internet providers include net neutrality protections.The Democratic leadership welcomed with reservation the governor's order, but will continue to push for a more comprehensive net neutrality law. Their response issued Thursday evening is below.
“I believe an open internet is essential to the flow of information, goods and services that will grow Vermont’s economy,” said Scott. “Our students depend heavily on the internet to access academic material, Vermonters use the internet to acquire information and receive critical services through our agencies and departments, and the internet is relied upon to share information, sell products and offer services.”
The executive order will apply to all state agencies, departments, commissions, boards or other administrative units within the executive branch that have the authority to enter into contracts. It is issued under the Governor’s Constitutional authority to conduct business for the state and implements the policy direction expressed in Senate bill S. 289, which recently passed out of the State Senate.
Changes to the contracting and procurement procedures will stipulate that internet service providers to the State of Vermont shall not:
- Block lawful content, applications, services, or nonharmful devices;
- Throttle, impair or degrade lawful internet traffic on the basis of internet content, application, or service, or use of a nonharmful device;
- Engage in paid prioritization or providing preferential treatment of some internet traffic to any Internet customer; or
- Unreasonably interfere with a customer’s ability to select, access and use broadband internet access service or the lawful Internet content, applications, services, or devices of their choice; or with a providers’ ability to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to a customer.
“I did not support the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal net neutrality, but we can take steps here in Vermont to uphold these values, while ensuring compliance with Federal law,” said Scott. “While the Legislature is working on additional action to protect net neutrality here in Vermont, we thought it was important to act quickly with an executive order that ensures Vermont’s position and commitment to protecting the State’s access to the internet is clear.”
Governors Cuomo of New York, Bullock of Montana and Murphy of New Jersey have also recently issued executive orders regarding contracting only with companies which agree to abide by net neutrality principles.
Speaker Johnson & Pro Tem Ashe on Governor’s Executive Order on Net Neutrality
"Earlier this month the Senate passed S.289, a bill that provides important net neutrality protections for Vermonters. The Trump Administration and massive national telecommunications companies should not be able to push consumers around.
"Today, Governor Scott is issuing an executive order related to net neutrality. We welcome the administration’s support for net neutrality after their earlier opposition to the Senate bill.
"Though we have had little time to review the Executive Order, we believe it offers too wide an off-ramp for the Administration to use State funds to contract with telecommunications companies that do not practice net neutrality. The Senate bill permits prioritization of public safety and emergency response communications; the Executive Order effectively grants a blanket opportunity to waive net neutrality in state contracts.
"The House version of the bill contemplates additional protections to ensure Vermont citizens have equal access to information and resources. It’s unconscionable we could enter a pay-to-play environment that directly disadvantages those who cannot afford to pay for faster internet service. Internet access has become a basic necessity for business, submitting schoolwork, and staying connected with friends and family. The House will be taking up net neutrality legislation after Town Meeting. The Senate looks forward to working with the House to pass legislation that affirms Vermont’s strong support for net neutrality.
"Together, the Senate and House will work to pass legislation that affirms Vermont’s strong support for net neutrality."
To read the full executive order, visit http://governor.vermont.gov/
Sources: Governor. Speaker 2.15.2018