The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is profoundly disappointed with the US Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of the Open Internet Order, which takes effect today, June 11, 2018. ARL is calling on the House of Representatives to reverse the FCC’s decision and restore net neutrality, a bedrock of equitable access to information.
As of today, internet service providers (ISPs) can legally prioritize some voices—those willing and able to pay a premium—over others, such as nonprofit organizations or people holding minority viewpoints. Instead of ensuring that users can access the content of their choosing on an equitable basis, the FCC is now relying solely on market forces to regulate the flow of internet traffic. This will almost certainly lead to many blocking/paid-prioritization arrangements between ISPs and commercial entities.
One possible avenue to retain net neutrality is through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Under CRA, Congress can overturn an agency’s decision with a simple majority vote in both houses within 60 legislative days of publication of the agency’s decision in the Federal Register. If both houses vote to overturn the decision, it will then require the signature of the President. The CRA resolution to reverse the FCC’s repeal of the Open Internet Order passed the Senate 52-47 on May 16. The House of Representatives can save net neutrality by taking up the issue and voting in favor of the similar CRA resolution introduced by Representative Doyle (D-PA). The House must act by mid-July if it is to pass a CRA resolution restoring the Open Internet Order.
“Net neutrality was essentially a nondiscrimination rule enabling the free and open exchange of ideas, thereby helping libraries fulfill their mission of advancing education, innovation, knowledge creation, and economic growth,” said Mary Ann Mavrinac, president of ARL and vice provost and the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of the University of Rochester Libraries. “We call on the House of Representatives to pass the CRA resolution restoring the open internet and we urge President Trump to sign it.”
Challenges to the FCC’s repeal of the Open Internet Order are also currently pending before the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. ARL is working with other library and higher education associations to advocate for the restoration of strong net neutrality protections through submission of an amicus brief highlighting the importance of these rules for access to information, research, education, and freedom of speech.
Take action on this issue by emailing, calling, or tweeting to your Representatives and encouraging them to restore an open internet by voting for the CRA resolution. Battle for the Net provides an easy way to email, call, and tweet to your lawmakers.
About the Association of Research Libraries
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.