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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy this week issued an executive order requiring all internet service providers that want to contract with the state to adhere to principles of net neutrality.

The order, signed Monday is in response to the FCC’s December decision to overturn net neutrality rules, a move that was met with industry praise, but raised concerns from critics about the potential for providers to engage in blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization.  

“We may not agree with everything we see online, but that does not give us a justifiable reason to block the free, uninterrupted, and indiscriminate flow of information,” Governor Murphy said. “And, it certainly doesn’t give certain companies or individuals a right to pay their way to the front of the line. While New Jersey cannot unilaterally regulate net neutrality back into law or cement it as a state regulation, we can exercise our power as a consumer to make our preferences known.”

The order applies to all contracts between ISPs and state entities executed beginning July 1.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

New Jersey is the latest state to mandate internet providers observe net neutrality rules, joining New York and Montana.

Also on Monday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced the state will join a lawsuit, filed in December by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, that aims to block the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality. So far 21 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the lawsuit.

“We are committed to taking whatever legal action we can to preserve the internet rights of New Jersey consumers, and to challenge the federal government’s misguided attack on a free and open internet,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Our position is that the Federal Communications Commission acted arbitrarily and against the evidence before it when doing its about-face on net neutrality.”

While there has been much backlash against the repeal of net neutrality, advocates have argued regulations were diverting smaller service providers’ resources away from investment in unserved areas.

“Under the regulatory regime adopted by the previous FCC, no one came out a winner - not smaller ISPs, not their customers, not upstream edge providers. The order adopted by the FCC today ends this 'unvirtuous' cycle,” Matthew Polka, CEO of the American Cable Association said in a statement following the FCC vote. “Customers of smaller ISPs will not only continue to have an open internet, but also they will have greatly enhanced access as ISPs upgrade their networks and roll out new services.”

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