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
National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)