Telecommunications reform is a priority for Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Issues such as ensuring network neutrality and advanced broadband deployment are critically important to research libraries and the education community.
"Net neutrality" is the principle that Internet users should have the right to access and provide content and use services via the Internet as they wish, and that network operators should not be allowed to "discriminate"—slow, block, or charge fees—for Internet traffic based on the source or content of its message. ARL members, as providers of content and services on the Internet, have long relied on and supported open and non-discriminatory public access policies. Open public Internet is increasingly critical to the research library community as educational institutions provide a growing number of distance learning services and online instruction such as MOOCs.
On January 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Open Internet Order's regulations governing network neutrality through anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules. The court's ruling striking down the Open Internet Order could result in Internet service providers prioritizing delivery for those willing to pay to promote their content, advancing commercial interests over research and higher education interests. Although the D.C. 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. On February 19, 2014, FCC CHairman Wheeler reaffirmed the agency's commitment to a free and open internet and announced that the FCC would seek comments and propose new rules to achieve the goals of an open internet, in accordance with the D.C. Circuit's ruling.
Letter to FCC in Support of an Open Internet, Feb. 13, 2014
"ARL Issue Brief: FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules and Implications for Research Libraries (PDF)," by Kristen Riccard, Jan. 24, 2011.
"The Importance of Net Neutrality to Research Libraries in the Digital Age," by Kristen Riccard, Research Library Issues, no. 273 (Dec. 2010): 8-16.
Letter to FCC re: Preserving the Open Internet, Dec. 13, 2010
"In the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet Broadband Industry Practices," Comments by ARL, ALA, and EDUCAUSE, Oct. 12, 2010
"In the Matter of Framework for Broadband Internet Service," Comments by ARL, ALA, and EDUCAUSE, Jul. 15, 2010
"In the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet Broadband Industry Practices," Comments of the Open Internet Coalition, Jan. 14, 2010
Letter to Julius Genachowski re: Open Internet, Oct. 21, 2009