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ARL Disappointed by Version of USA FREEDOM Act Passed by US House of Representatives

telephone with sticker that says "this phone is tapped"image © François Proulx

Today, May 22, 2014, the US House of Representatives voted 303 to 121 to pass H.R. 3361, the USA FREEDOM Act, after amending the bill twice in committees. The original version of the bill, which currently remains unaltered in the Senate, had 151 House co-sponsors. Some of these co-sponsors withdrew their support and opposed the version of H.R. 3361 reported out of the House Rules Committee on May 21 because of the significant changes made. Even several of those co-sponsors who voted in favor of H.R. 3361 expressed disappointment that the bill did not go far enough in curtailing the Government’s ability to conduct bulk collection of records and failed to protect privacy and civil liberties in the same manner as the prior versions.

 
 

FCC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Net Neutrality

electronic-superhighway-by-nam-june-paik“Electronic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik, image © The QAt an open meeting held on May 15, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considered the issue of “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet,” or net neutrality. The FCC voted on—and passed by 3-2—a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which proposes new rules in accordance with the decision of the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit that overturned the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Rules regarding anti-discrimination and anti-blocking. The FCC seeks comments, due July 15, 2014, on a wide range of topics including the appropriate scope of the rules, whether paid prioritization should be banned outright, and what legal authority provides the most effective path to protecting an open Internet.

 
 

FCC to Consider Revised Net Neutrality Rules

electronic-superhighway-by-nam-june-paik“Electronic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik, image © The QThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is once again trying to propose network neutrality rules that would assure an open Internet, though early press reports based on a draft proposal indicate that more work needs to be done to achieve network neutrality. In its January 2014 decision in Verizon v. FCC, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down previous FCC rules on network neutrality. The FCC will consider new rules on May 15. The proposed rules will then be subject to public comment and will be carefully reviewed by many communities, given the possible impact on free speech, innovation, online learning, and more. ARL, the American Library Association (ALA), and EDUCAUSE have been collaborating on network neutrality issues and will continue to work with the FCC and other communities as the proposed rules are publicly considered. 

 
 

Letter to FCC in Support of an Open Internet

On February 13, 2014, in a letter to the Chairman and the Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the American Library Association (ALA), and EDUCAUSE signaled their disappointment with the recent DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision to vacate the “no blocking” and “no discrimination” rules for public Internet access set forth by the FCC in 2010.

pdf ltr-fcc-net-neutrality-13feb2014.pdf

 
 

ARL, ALA, EDUCAUSE Urge FCC to Develop Net Neutrality Policies; FCC Issues Statement, Calls for Comment

electronic-superhighway-by-nam-june-paik“Electronic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik, image © The QOn February 13, 2014, in a letter (PDF) to the Chairman and the Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the American Library Association (ALA), and EDUCAUSE signaled their disappointment with the recent DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Verizon v. FCC to vacate the “no blocking” and “no discrimination” rules for public Internet access set forth by the FCC in 2010. At the same time, the associations noted that the court’s recognition of the FCC’s legal authority under Section 706 to protect consumers and the public’s access to Internet services was a positive outcome. The associations stated:

 
 

The Day We Fight Back: NSA Reform Bills to End Mass Surveillance and Provide Greater Transparency

Benjamin Franklin with quote from paragraph 2Benjamin FranklinToday, February 11, 2014, individuals and groups are participating in “The Day We Fight Back,” a day of action protesting the US government’s mass surveillance programs. Revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) programs, including the breadth and scope of bulk collection of data conducted under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (also known as the “library records provision”) have raised serious concerns regarding curtailment of civil liberties and the compatibility of these programs with the First and Fourth Amendments.

 
 

FCC Grants One-Year Waiver of E-Reader Accessibility Requirement

image © Terry MadeleyOn January 28, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a one-year waiver exempting e-readers from the requirement that equipment used for advanced communication services (ACS) be accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities. The FCC granted the waiver in response to a petition filed by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers, but limited the waiver to only one year despite the coalition’s request for an indefinite waiver. In the order granting the waiver (PDF), the FCC stated:

 
 

ARL Disappointed with Court Ruling on Network Neutrality

electronic-superhighway-by-nam-june-paik“Electronic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik, image © The QOn January 14, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet Order’s anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules, a regulation governing network neutrality. The court’s ruling striking down the Open Internet Order could result in Internet service providers providing prioritized delivery for those willing to pay to promote their content, advancing commercial interests over research library and higher education interests. Although the DC Circuit rejected the Open Internet Order, the court upheld the FCC’s authority to regulate broadband services, thus leaving open the possibility of the FCC reclassifying broadband providers or redrafting its network neutrality rules in accordance with the opinion.

 
 
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