ACRL Joins Coalition in Opposing Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

On May 18, 2017, ACRL joined 11 other library and higher education groups (including ALA) in issuing a statement which reiterates that the groups believe no changes to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) 2015 Open Internet Order are necessary. Through that order, internet users have benefited from strong and enforceable network neutrality policies. However, during an open meeting today the FCC voted to move forward with its notice of proposed rulemaking, which begins to roll back strong net neutrality protections. The library and higher ed groups have consistently advocated for network neutrality principles and will continue to do so. The full statement reads:

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)

In addition to this coalition statement, ALA separately condemned the FCC vote to undermine net neutrality protections and vowed to defend open internet.