Net Neutrality is back in the news. Earlier today the DC Court of Appeals ruled against the FCC, specifically the agency’s regulation of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The FCC was attempting to regulate ISPs as “common carriers,” which basically means that the agency regulates companies offering broadband service (like Verizon) the same way they would a tradition telecom company. For example, take telephone service. Your pay your phone company—a Common Carrier—to provide the connection between points A & B, but the phone company is not allowed to prioritize your calls based on partnerships or business deals with any specific Point B. Everybody—telemarketers, your best friend, work, your mom—has the same level of access to whatever device you answer phone calls on. Net Neutrality holds that this should also apply to Internet traffic over broadband, mobile, and dial-up connections.
Today’s ruling essentially tells the FCC that is has not properly identified broadband provider Verizon as a Common Carrier and thus cannot regulate Internet traffic in that way. You can see a timeline of various Net Neutrality activities here.
The ALA released a statement addressing the ramifications of this ruling on libraries around the nation. From ALA Director Barbara Stripling:
“The American Library Association is extremely disappointed with today’s decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down the FCC’s “Net Neutrality” decision. ALA has been a long-time supporter of the free flow of information for all people. Now that the Internet has become the primary mechanism for delivering information, services and applications to the general public, it is especially important that commercial Internet Service Providers are not able to control or manipulate the content of these communications.
“The court’s decision gives commercial companies the astounding legal authority to block Internet traffic, give preferential treatment to certain Internet services or applications, and steer users to or away from certain web sites based on their own commercial interests. This ruling, if it stands, will adversely affect the daily lives of Americans and fundamentally change the open nature of the Internet, where uncensored access to information has been a hallmark of the communication medium since its inception.”
You can read the full statement from ALA here.