WASHINGTON, DC—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 associations 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 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 associations 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. ALA, 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.
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 126 research libraries in North America. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.
The American Library Association (ALA), established in 1876, is a nonprofit professional organization of more than 65,000 librarians, library trustees, and other friends of libraries dedicated to providing and improving library services and promoting the public interest in a free and open information society. ALA is on the web at http://www.ala.org/.
EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. The current membership comprises more than 2,000 colleges, universities, and educational organizations, including 200 corporations, with 15,000 active members. EDUCAUSE is on the web at http://www.educause.edu/.