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Library, Higher Education Groups Urge US Congress to Support Open Internet Order

Electronic Superhighway by Nam June Paik, image CC-BY-NC-SA by The Q

The American Library Association (ALA), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and EDUCAUSE sent a joint letter (PDF) on December 4, 2015, to US Congressional leaders, asking them to oppose the inclusion of any language in the current Omnibus Appropriations bill that would undermine the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enforce its Open Internet Order protecting net neutrality. The Open Internet Order, which became effective in June, prohibits blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of content on the Internet.

In the letter, the organizations note the importance of net neutrality:

ALA, ARL, and EDUCAUSE believe that preserving an open Internet is essential to our nation’s educational achievement, freedom of speech, and economic growth. The open Internet has become a cornerstone of the educational, academic, and computer services that libraries and higher education offer to students, teachers, and the general public. Libraries and higher education institutions are prolific producers of Internet content. We rely upon the public availability of open, affordable Internet access for school homework assignments, distance learning classes, e-government services, licensed databases, job-training videos, medical and scientific research, and many other essential services. It is vital that the Internet remains a network neutral environment so that libraries and higher education institutions have the freedom to create and provide innovative information services that are central to the growth and development of our democratic culture.

ALA, ARL, and EDUCAUSE joined with several other organizations in issuing a set of Net Neutrality Principles in July 2014. The organizations participated actively in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding that led to the adoption in February 2015 of the Open Internet Order, which incorporated many of the 2014 principles.

The December 4, 2015, letter states, “Attaching language to an appropriations bill concerning the enforcement of the FCC’s Open Internet Order would undermine the established processes for both administrative and legislative actions…A last-minute appropriations rider would improperly circumvent the appropriate legislative and administrative processes.” Read the full letter (PDF).

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.