Senate passes bill to ensure state contracts with Net Neutral internet providers

The Vermont Senate advanced an important measure Friday to promote a fair and open Internet in Vermont.

On a 23 to 5 vote, the Senate gave final approval to S.289 – a bill that would ensure the state only contracts with Internet Service Providers that adhere to Net Neutrality principles.

The move comes in response to the Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission order in December to repeal strong net neutrality protections previously enshrined at the federal level.

Those protections ensured that internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T continue to provide access to all internet content and applications regardless of their source and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. With many of these telecom conglomerates growing to become both internet providers and content producers (e.g. Comcast’s acquisition of NBC, AT&T’s attempted merger with Time Warner), made the need for enshrined principles preventing them from advantaging their own content increasingly important.

The Trump FCC’s order rescinds these protections and essentially gives these giant telecoms free rein to dismantle the fair and open internet that we’ve all come to rely on.

The Vermont bill — which passed the Senate on a 23 to 5 vote – follows in the footsteps of Montana and New York, whose governors have already issued executive orders requiring ISPs to adhere to Net Neutrality principles in order to qualify for a state contract.

While the Trump FCC’s order included language attempting to pre-empt states from enacting net neutrality protections, states’ have the authority to determine what companies they do business with.

S.289 sends a clear message that the state of Vermont will not do business with non-Net Neutral ISPs. It ensures that taxpayer dollars will not go companies that are working to dismantle a fair and open internet. And it uses the state’s “power of the purse” to ensure Vermonter have access to internet service providers that are adhering to Net Neutrality principles.

This legislation now moves to the House – which already considering its own legislation (H.680) to promote Net Neutrality in Vermont.

Join the fight for Net Neutrality in our state – add your name to our petition to legislators letting them know that protecting Net Neutrality is important to you.