Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler outlined the network neutrality proposal he plans to circulate to fellow Commissioners today and bring to a vote on February 26, 2015. In a Wired op-ed he writes: 'I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open Internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services." The American Library Association (ALA) welcomes this affirmation of strong network neutrality protections.
"I am very pleased that Chairman Wheeler’s outlined proposal matches the network neutrality principles ALA and nearly a dozen library and higher education groups called for last July," said ALA President Courtney Young. "America’s libraries collect, create and disseminate essential information to the public over the Internet, and enable our users to create and distribute their own digital content and applications. Network neutrality is essential to meeting our mission in serving America’s communities and preserving the Internet as a platform for free speech, innovation, research and learning for all."
In its January 2014 ruling on Verizon v. FCC, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down much of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order. The Commission responded by opening a new public proceeding in May 2014. Subsequently, nearly 4 million public comments were filed with the FCC.
"The ALA commends the Chairman for asserting FCC authority under both Title II of the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to provide the strongest possible legal foundation for network neutrality rules," said Larra Clark, deputy director of the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy. "We also are pleased these rules will apply to both fixed and mobile broadband, which ALA has long advocated."
Chairman Wheeler also outlined (pdf) provisions of Title II from which he would forbear from enforcing, including rate regulation or imposing new taxes or fees. "After the recent successful completion of E-rate program modernization to better enable affordable access to high-capacity broadband through libraries and schools, ALA has a particular interest in safeguarding FCC authority related to the Universal Service Fund," Clark said. "We are encouraged the Chairman specifically called out universal service and look forward to better understanding how a partial application of Section 254 will work."
Young concluded: "Libraries strongly value and support the open Internet as a cornerstone for preserving our democracy in the information age. We also depend on it to make sure essential library services and content aren’t stuck in an Internet ‘slow lane.’ The educational and public interest benefits of an open Internet are extremely important, and we welcome strong network neutrality protections that will help ensure equitable access to online information, applications and services for all."
More information on libraries and network neutrality is available on the ALA website.
About the American Library Association
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 55,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.