New Jersey Mandates Net Neutrality in State Contracts

Add New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to the list of those mandating network neutrality rules for government broadband contracts.

Murphy on Monday signed an executive order "mandating that all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that do business with the State of New Jersey follow the principles of net neutrality, a critical step in securing a free and open Internet for state residents."

Like Montana and New York, whose governors also adopted net neutrality-related contracting orders, New Jersey is one of the now-22 states joining in a suit against the politically divided FCC's November rollback of net neutrality rules--New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Monday (Feb. 5) that the state was joining the suit.

“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,” 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.”

Related: California Senate Passes Net Neutrality Regs

ISPs have to adhere to no blocking, throttling or paid prioritization rules, and to provide "accurate" network management info to the public, to be able to secure a state contract, starting July 1, 2018. Enforcement will be monitored by the Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Purchase and Property.

The FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom order included preempting state efforts to legislate their own network neutrality rules, but it is unclear how that affects an order on state contracts for service.

(Photo via Wikimedia (Author: Smallbones). Photo taken on March 25, 2011. Attributed using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0. Photo was modified to fit 16x9 aspect ratio)

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.