Tag Archives: nprm

Battle for the Net: Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality

Today, July 12, 2017, ARL is joining thousands of websites and tens of thousands of individuals in participating in an Internet-wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality. This day of action is designed to draw attention to the importance of net neutrality and the current threats an open Internet faces due to new leadership at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The strong net neutrality rules we currently have in place, set forth in the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, were fought for and won by millions of people and organizations who took action by submitting comments to the FCC in support of strong rules protecting the Internet. ARL joined with other library and higher education organizations to submit principles, comments and reply comments pointing out the importance of net neutrality to our institutions and users. The FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order provided clear rules, grounded in a strong legal basis, when it reclassified

All Internet users should be concerned about the FCC’s efforts to roll back net neutrality. Without strong rules to preserve an open Internet, service providers will have the ability and incentive to block, throttle, or engage in paid prioritization, drastically changing the character of the Internet from an even playing field to one in which only the wealthy can afford to have their content prioritized. Strong net neutrality rules are essential to protect online free speech and innovation.

You can take action by contacting the FCC and Congress, which can be done easily at Battle for the Net. The Internet should not be divided into “fast lanes” and “slow lanes.” It should remain open, so that all voices and content may have equal footing, rather than elevating only the voices of those who have the means and are willing to pay a premium.

Today’s Day of Action will harness the power of the Internet to make sure that ordinary Internet users can make their voices heard and a wide range of organizations will be participating, from library groups such as ALA and ARL, to civil society groups like Demand Progress and EFF, to social media sites like Twitter and Snapchat, to video hosting or streaming sites like Netflix and Vimeo, to journalism sites such as The Nation and Daily Kos, to companies like Amazon and Dropbox. A full list of participants is available on the Day of Action page.

ARL Joins Higher Education and Library Groups to Oppose Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

On May 18, 2017, the FCC voted 2-1 to move forward with its notice of proposed rulemaking to roll back net neutrality protections that were set forth in the agency’s 2015 Open Internet Order. The FCC appears to want to reverse course on Title II reclassification, which provided the strong legal basis for the no blocking, no throttling and no paid prioritization rules, and potentially give enforcement oversight to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) instead. ARL joined higher education and library groups in issuing the following statement:

May 18, 2017

No Changes to Net Neutrality Law Necessary, say Higher Ed and Library Groups

Since the passage of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, internet users have benefited from strong and enforceable net neutrality policies, which are essential to protecting freedom of speech, educational achievement, and economic growth for all Americans. Today’s vote puts those protections in jeopardy.

Libraries and institutions of higher education are leaders in maximizing the potential of the Internet for research, education, teaching and learning, and the public good.  In the modern era, a free and open internet is essential to our public missions. The current net neutrality rules – no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization, backed by a general conduct standard to ensure net neutrality adapts as the Internet evolves – generated unprecedented public support, and the validity of both the rules and the process that produced them has been affirmed by the DC Circuit Court.

Given all these factors, we believe no changes to the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order are necessary.  We urge the Commission to rescind the NPRM approved today and work with all stakeholders to enhance flexibility and innovation within the existing framework. Application of the rules to this point has demonstrated that the Commission can manage the regulatory environment for Internet access without undermining the sound, legal basis for network neutrality.

Should the FCC continue down the path proposed in the NPRM, however, the higher education and library communities would again draw the Commission’s attention to the network neutrality principles for which we have consistently advocated. We believe the Commission can and should frame any efforts to support an open Internet around these principles, and we will work through the rulemaking process to sustain strong network neutrality rules based on them.

We look forward to working with the FCC on ensuring that the Internet remains open.

The organizations endorsing this statement are:

American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)

American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)

American Council on Education (ACE)

American Library Association (ALA)

Association of American Universities (AAU)

Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)

Association of Research Libraries (ARL)

Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA)

Council of Independent Colleges

EDUCAUSE

National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)

Net neutrality update: FCC and Congress simultaneously considering new rules

Federal Communications Commission

After last year’s decision by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit striking down anti-blocking and anti-discrimination provisions in the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order, the FCC has been considering new rules to protect net neutrality. Initially, it appeared that the FCC was likely to continue to rely on its authority under Section 706 to protect net neutrality (in the decision rejecting provisions in the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order, the D.C. Circuit did uphold the FCC’s broad authority to regulate broadband services). Numerous groups strongly advocated for the FCC to reclassify broadband under Title II rather than relying on Section 706.

Since the FCC’s initial Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, President Obama has come out in favor of reclassification as a means of ensuring net neutrality.

Reports now indicate that Chairman Wheeler will propose reclassification of broadband, allowing the FCC to treat broadband providers as common carriers. Reclassification will enable the FCC to protect the open character of the Internet by strengthening the legal basis for its anti-discrimination and, in particular, its anti-blocking provisions. One of the issues under consideration by the FCC is what provisions under Title II it will chose to “forbear” from or not enforce; many provisions that apply to common carriers may not be applicable to Internet service providers.

There is also a question of whether the FCC’s rules will simultaneously rely on its Section 706 authority. Using Section 706 authority as a backup will help strengthen the net neutrality rules, particularly rules against paid prioritization.

Chairman Wheeler is expected to circulate his proposal to the other commissioners on February 5, with a vote on the rules planned for February 26.

Congress

While the FCC is expected to move forward with its net neutrality rules, Congress appears to be preparing to address this issue, as well. Hearings on net neutrality were held in both the Senate and House of Representatives on January 21.

Prior to these hearings, a discussion draft bill was released on January 16, 2015 and would create a new Title X to the Communications Act to deal specifically with broadband providers, rather than reclassifying broadband providers as a common carrier under Title II or using Section 706 authority.

While the draft bill would ban paid prioritization, there are several concerns regarding the discussion draft.

First, the language in the draft bill could provide considerable discretion to Internet service providers in determining what is “reasonable network management.”

Additionally, the bill includes language that states “nothing in this section . . . prohibits reasonable efforts by a provider of broadband Internet access service to address copyright infringement or other unlawful activity.” These provisions could effectively create loopholes for broadband providers to circumvent bans against blocking or discrimination.

ARL, as a member of the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), submitted a letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology and House Committee on Energy and Commerce raising these concerns, noting that “Copyright holders could use this language to essentially enforce their copyrights, even if their claims are misleading or false.”

Another concern with the discussion draft is that the “mass market” definition in the bill does not address libraries and higher education. This was a problem with the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order, as well, and in an initial filing by a coalition of library and higher education organizations, including ARL, these groups noted that the definition of “mass market”

needs to be clarified to ensure that the term “other end-user customers” clearly includes institutions of higher education and other institutions that purchase standardized broadband Internet access service. Certainly, institutions of higher education are not “residential customers” or “small businesses.” There is some uncertainty about whether institutions of higher education (and their libraries) are included in the term “schools” because the term is sometimes interpreted as applying only to K-12 schools.

A similar clarification is needed in this draft bill.

ARL and Eleven Other Library and Higher Education Organizations File Reply Comments on Net Neutrality

On Monday, September 15, 2014, twelve library and higher education organizations, including ARL, filed reply comments with the FCC on net neutrality in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to protect and promote the open Internet. The FCC issued the NPRM following the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s January 2014 decision striking down the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order’s rules on no-blocking and anti-discrimination . Eleven of these organizations previously filed comments as well as net neutrality principles in July; the reply comments recommend that the FCC adopt the principles and strategies contained in these prior filings. In the reply comments, these groups continue emphasizing the importance of net neutrality in protecting free speech, educational achievement and economic growth. While the initial comments pointed out that the FCC could use its legal authority to reclassify broadband Internet services as a Title II “common carrier” or exercise its Section 706 authority, the reply comments focus on options under Section 706.

The comments point out the importance of the open Internet, also known as net neutrality, so that these institutions can carry out their missions and promote education, research and learning. The twelve organizations ask the FCC to “take special heed” of the importance of net neutrality for library and higher education institutions pointing out:

We are not aware of any commenters who disagreed with the importance of an open Internet for education, research, and learning. In fact, the New America Foundation specifically recognized the importance of an open Internet for schools, libraries and other public institutions.

At the same time, few commenters called attention to these needs, and the NPRM does not focus on these issues as much as it could. As an example, we note that the opening paragraph of the PRM released on May 15, 2014, does not use any of the words “education,” research” or learning.” … Recognizing the important public interest in education, research and learning throughout the FCC’s final order will help the commission orient its net neutrality policy in a way that recognizes these cherished public interest values.

The comments also note the concerns that without net neutrality, paid prioritization may occur as broadband providers would have the incentive and opportunity to divide the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes based on the ability or willingness to pay for enhanced access. The coalition of library and higher education institutions emphasize that, “If public broadband providers are allowed to prioritize or degrade certain Internet traffic, or discriminate in favor of or against certain content or applications, the future of the Internet as a platform for education, research learning, innovation and free speech will be put in jeopardy.”

Specifically, libraries and higher education institutions depend on the open Internet as they increasingly rely on access to and storage of information remotely, including subscriptions to online-only resources; serve as centers where people complete online education courses; act as partners with the Internet Archive to digitize and make accessible various materials; use the portal developed by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to allow patrons to search and scan resources; and transition to cloud-based productivity application services to support faculty and student access to email, word processing and related applications as well as for administrative and learning management systems.

The comments also suggest that in addressing a no-blocking rule, the FCC could require that when a broadband provider chooses to offer Internet service, that provider must then fulfill the consumer’s decision to interact with his or her chosen edge provider and cannot block such access. This rule focuses on consumer choice, but does not obligate the broadband provider to serve every consumer as the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order’s no-blocking rule did. This suggestion provides an alternative path for the FCC than a rule that would require providing a minimum level of service.

Building on the July filing, the reply comments again encourage the FCC to adopt an “Internet reasonable” standard to govern the relationship between broadband providers and edge providers rather than the FCC’s proposed “commercially reasonable” standard. Numerous groups and organizations, such as the Center for Democracy & Technology, Free Press, Public Knowledge, the New America Foundation, the Internet Association, the Communications and Computer Industry Association (CCIA), among others, have opposed the “commercially reasonable” standard because such a standard would likely be ineffective in preserving net neutrality. The reply comments suggest that an “Internet reasonable” standard would provide a more tailored approach that would evaluate impact on the Internet ecosystem. Additionally, the reply comments again propose that the FCC establish clear presumptions, such as against paid prioritization, on conduct that would violate the “Internet reasonable” standard.