ALA, ACRL file network neutrality comments with FCC

Today the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt the legally enforceable network neutrality rules necessary to fulfill library missions and serve communities nationwide. The ALA and ACRL joined nine other national higher education and library organizations in filing joint public comments (pdf) with the FCC.

The joint comments build on the ALA resolution adopted by Council at the 2014 Annual Conference and align with the 2014 legislative agenda developed by ACRL. They also provide greater detail for the network neutrality principles released July 10 and suggest ways to strengthen the FCC’s proposed rules (released May 15, 2014) to preserve an open internet for libraries, higher education and the communities they serve. For instance, the FCC should:

  • explicitly apply open Internet rules to public broadband Internet access service provided to libraries, institutions of higher education and other public interest organizations;
  • prohibit “paid prioritization;”
  • adopt rules that are technology-neutral and apply equally to fixed and mobile services;
  • adopt a re-defined “no-blocking” rule that bars public broadband Internet access providers from interfering with the consumer’s choice of content, applications, or services;
  • further strengthen disclosure rules;
  • charge the proposed ombudsman with protecting the interests of libraries and higher education institutions and other public interest organizations, in addition to consumers and small businesses;
  • continue to recognize that libraries and institutions of higher education operate private networks or engage in end user activities not subject to open Internet rules; and
  • preserve the unique capacities of the Internet as an open platform by exercising its well-established sources of authority to implement open Internet rules, based on Title II reclassification or an “Internet reasonable” standard under Section 706.

The joint comments mark another definitive statement on behalf of all types of libraries and the communities we serve, but are simply one more step in a long journey toward our goal. There’s more to be done, and librarians can make their voices heard in a number of ways:

  1. Email to the ALA Washington Office (lclark[at]alawash[dot]org) examples of Internet Service Provider (ISP) slowdowns, lost quality of service relative to your subscribed ISP speeds, and any other harm related to serving your community needs. Alternately, please share examples of potential harm if we do not preserve the open internet (e.g., impact on cloud-based services and/or ability to disseminate digitized or streaming content on an equal footing with commercial content providers that otherwise might pay for faster “lanes” for their content over library content).
  2. Ask your community to support and/or adopt the network neutrality principles. Several people in attendance at the Annual Conference program on the topic suggested this, and the ALA Washington Office will develop and share a template for this purpose in the coming weeks.