6 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 293 2018 Practical Consequences of the Elimination of Net Neutrality for the Research & Education Community: A Speculation Clifford A. Lynch, Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information On December 14, 2017, in a monumentally craven vote, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eliminated the net neutrality rules that had been in place for many years after publication in the Federal Register, a portion of this action will go into effect on April 23, 2018, with the remainder of the repeal set to go into effect later this year after final approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In the companion piece in this issue of Research Library Issues, Krista Cox discusses the broader public policy implications of this decision, including the prospects for reversing it through legislative action or litigation by state attorneys general, or of at least mitigating some effects through state-level legislation or regulation. This brief and admittedly speculative piece will simply take the reversal of net neutrality as a starting point, and attempt to predict the practical, operational consequences for research and education (R&E) institutions, and consider some possible strategies to work around these consequences. [Some] of these behaviors may be hard to detect, and under other circumstances might be considered as criminal activi- ties or cyber-warfare. Fundamentally, the FCC’s decision to eliminate net neutrality allows any internet service provider (ISP) to block traffic that transits that ISP’s network, to delay or de-prioritize that traffic in preference to other traffic, or to monitor, record, and resell that traffic to anyone it pleases. The ISP can also attempt to modify traffic (for example, to insert advertising). To be clear, it remains to be seen which of these appalling practices various ISPs will choose to adopt, though the track record of some parts of the industry over the last decade or so is not encouraging. Note
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