The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and EDUCAUSE say the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) passage of its network (net) neutrality order today is a first step toward restoring an open Internet but does not go far enough to ensure community anchor institutions’ content and services can be equally accessed by the public.
While the groups say the FCC’s clarification of the word “consumer” guarantees the rule will apply to libraries and other educational interests, additional provisions sought by the associations are needed to achieve “true” net neutrality. The order does not hold wireless to the same non-discriminatory standards as wireline access, despite the growing number of libraries, higher education institutions, and users that utilize wireless technology to access content and information. Additionally, the practice of paid-prioritization must be banned to protect libraries and educational interests from being charged more to provide the public with the same quality of access to their educational and non-profit content.
The Internet has become a cornerstone of the educational, research, and computer services that libraries and other anchor institutions offer to students, teachers, and the general public. These institutions rely upon the widespread public availability of an open, affordable Internet to provide equitable access to content and services including distance learning classes, e-government services, licensed databases, job-training videos, medical and scientific research, and many other essential services.
The groups thank U.S. Reps. Doris Matsui (CA-5), Edward Markey (MA-7) and Anna Eshoo (CA-14) for bringing attention to the needs of community anchor institutions in their recent letter to the Commissioners. The ALA, the ARL and EDUCAUSE anticipate the FCC’s efforts to address these additional concerns and to provide long-term oversight and enforcement of today’s rule.