12 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 293 2018 Implications of the Reversal of Net Neutrality Rules and Next Steps to Protect the Open Internet Krista L. Cox, Director of Public Policy Initiatives, Association of Research Libraries Introduction Net neutrality is an important concept based on the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) should permit access to all lawful content, without favoring some content over other content. An open internet is fundamental to the mission of research libraries in providing access to information, including ensuring that users can access vast data sets, preserving and sharing our cultural record, providing interconnected research and learning, and facilitating discovery. Net neutrality, at its core, is a nondiscrimination law that promotes freedom of speech and allows the free and open exchange of ideas. Without an open internet, the community that research libraries serve could be encumbered, particularly in accessing information, applications, or materials that depend on high-bandwidth capacity. At its meeting on December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to reverse the strong net neutrality protections that had been put into place by the 2015 Open Internet Order. While the 2015 order included protections against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, after the January 2017 change in Administration, the FCC revoked its regulations and replaced net neutrality protections with a mere transparency rule requiring broadband providers to disclose that they may manipulate data. The companion piece to this article, written by Clifford Lynch, focuses on the practical impacts for research and education institutions in a world without net neutrality regulations. This piece provides the legal and policy background to the FCC’s 2015 rules protecting net neutrality and the FCC’s complete reversal of this policy decision just two years later. This article then discusses various paths forward in trying to
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