Millions of internet users have weighed in — including hundreds of libraries and information professionals — to tell FCC Chairman Ajit Pai not to roll back 2015’s Net Neutrality Order. So what happens now? Flying in the face of this widespread and deep public support for strong net neutrality rules, the FCC has signaled it will gut these protections. Here’s what we expect in coming weeks and months:
- FCC Vote: The FCC is expected to be voting at their December meeting, set for December 14 on the adoption of the “Restoring Internet Freedom” rule. The draft language for the vote is expected to be released later today. There likely will be a vote of 3 to 2 (along party lines) to reverse Title II reclassification of the internet. The final order is expected to fully reverse the FCC’s 2015 order.
- Release of the Order: The full text of the adopted FCC order will almost certainly not be ready the day of the vote. In 2010, the text of the order (which was subsequently overturned by a federal court) was released two days after it was voted on, and in 2015, the full text was released 14 days after the vote.
- Publication in the Federal Register: The order must then be published in the Federal Register and will not go into effect until at least 30 days after publication. This is an important date for proponents of strong net neutrality rules, as this is when appeals to the new order can begin.
- Legal challenge: There are 60 days to petition for review or appeal the order in the federal court of appeals.
Another front of activity also could play out in Congress. At this point, there are no concrete proposals circulating, and discussion has come mostly from Republican members, with their Democratic colleagues opposed to legislating at this time. Discussions about legislation are likely to ramp up once the FCC’s vote happens.
Throughout, the ALA will continue to work with other supporters of strong net neutrality protections to ensure policymakers know how important a free and open internet is to libraries and the communities we serve. We have fought this fight many times over the past decade, and this will not be the final word on preserving the open and free internet we all need to ensure intellectual freedom and equitable access in the digital age. We will provide analysis of the draft order and additional options for ALA members to raise their voices in support of the Open Internet in the coming weeks.