“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:
Benjamin 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.
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:
“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.
image © Terry MadeleyEarlier this month, ARL and the American Library Association (ALA) filed additional reply comments (PDF) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding a request to waive e-reader access requirements for individuals with disabilities. In the comments, the Associations noted, “We are writing to reiterate our opposition to the waiver sought by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers (‘the Manufacturers’) and present new information regarding the manner in which the e-readers covered by the Manufacturers’ petition (‘basic e-readers’) are utilized.”
In December 2013, ARL and the American Library Association (ALA) filed additional reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding a request to waive e-reader access requirements for individuals with disabilities. In the comments, the Associations noted, “We are writing to reiterate our opposition to the waiver sought by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers (‘the Manufacturers’) and present new information regarding the manner in which the e-readers covered by the Manufacturers’ petition (‘basic e-readers’) are utilized.”
FCC websiteOn Monday, December 2, ARL joined others in the library community in a letter (PDF) requesting that the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) make its primary legal materials and publicly available comments accessible via the Government Printing Office (GPO) Federal Digital System, FDsys. The signatories noted that, “In doing so, the Commission stands not only to improve the public’s access to official government information and ability to participate in critical governmental processes during periods of crisis, but serve as a model for other agencies to implement the principles of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative.”
image © François ProulxThe continuous release of information concerning the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance practices has led to increased scrutiny by Congress. Two bills have been introduced that seek to address some of the NSA surveillance practices and address serious privacy concerns. First, Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the FISA Improvement Act of 2013 (PDF) that was approved by the Select Committee on Intelligence on October 31. The bill was not made publicly available until after the committee’s approval. The second, a bicameral and bipartisan bill, the USA Freedom Act of 2013 (PDF), was introduced by Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Sen. Leahy (D-VT) on October 29. This bill seeks to rein in the NSA’s bulk collection, analysis, and storage of Americans’ electronic communications. ARL with others in the public and private sectors support the USA Freedom Act of 2013.
image © Terry MadeleyOn October 22, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau announced that the FCC needs more time to review a petition requesting a waiver for certain e-reader devices to be exempt from the FCC’s advanced communications accessibility requirements. The petition was filed by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers. The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued an order (PDF) granting a temporary waiver from the accessibility requirements for certain e-readers until January 28, 2014. During this temporary waiver period, the FCC will evaluate the merits of the petition and decide whether to grant or deny the waiver request. For more background, read about the reply comments ARL submitted to the FCC in September 2013 opposing the waiver.