3 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 293 2018 Why Net Neutrality Matters and What Research Libraries Can Do about It Mary Lee Kennedy, Executive Director, Association of Research Libraries A portion of the United States Federal Communications Commission’s reversal of its 2015 Open Internet Order—also known as net neutrality rules—is set to go into effect on April 23, 2018, with the remainder of the repeal to go into effect later this year after final approval by the Office of Management and Budget. The fundamental intent of the open internet is to encourage the free and open exchange of ideas—the very basis of a democratic society. Although the reversal appears imminent, there are efforts to stay or blunt it at the federal and state levels. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is part of these efforts, actively advocating for and acting in the interest of an open internet. Although the exact nature of the impact is not known, there is little doubt that the reversal of the net neutrality rules could reduce access to information used in research and education. The reversal opens up the possibility of internet service providers blocking, delaying, and prioritizing specific content, as well as tracking, recording, and reselling usage data. If the reversal does occur, it is clear that the pursuit of net neutrality is far from over. This timely edition of Research Library Issues includes two companion pieces focused on why the reversal matters to research libraries, providing current facts and expert opinion from Clifford Lynch, the Coalition for Networked Information’s executive director, and Krista Cox, ARL’s director of public policy initiatives. Both articles detail the implications for research libraries if the reversal goes into effect and set out options for library leaders and their respective institutions to pursue in securing an open internet in the interests of all who seek to do research and learn. Clifford Lynch calls attention to the potential practical implications for
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