Internet neutrality is good for business

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One of my favorite concepts in managing both business and government agencies is: All progress requires change, but not all change is progress.

We see this playing out in Montana, and certainly in Washington, D.C. While our country is currently mesmerized by political and Hollywood sex scandals, one of the most important policy debates raging in America is “net neutrality.” The future of the internet, as we know it, is at stake. Large corporations that provide internet services are attempting to block or throttle information that is currently available on the worldwide web. If these internet providers are successful, and in the future they are allowed to block, throttle, or control access for citizens, I believe this will be change that is not progress. Innovative ideas and small Montana businesses rely on the internet being open and accessible. They deserve net neutrality.

Here at the Office of the Secretary of State, we know a lot about change. On Sept. 1, for the first time in history, we went fully “digital” in our Business Services Division. The rest of the country is watching as Montana leads the way in how we interact and serve the 160,000 businesses that utilize our office for registrations, renewals, mergers, etc. Our new way of serving businesses is faster, mobile-friendly and error-free. We are really excited to showcase the immaculate services we now provide to business customers, as we strive to become the best run agency in state government! Stay tuned.

I have been fortunate enough to lead and manage Information Technology (IT) development and procurement for all three branches of government in Montana. It takes a certain kind of tenacity, perseverance and attention to detail in order to successfully implement change in government computer systems. I have seen a lot of changes, quite frankly, that did not result in progress.

But we really have no choice in pursuing progress. We have to keep changing! The world is changing rapidly, and computers are the catalyst in virtually every sector of our economy. It’s important that each of us continues to learn and understand the digital world, so that we as citizens can collectively support wise public policy. Let’s hope the policymakers in Washington, D.C. do the same.

Corey Stapleton, a Billings Republican, is Montana’s secretary of state.

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