Higher education, library groups release net neutrality principles

On July 10, 2014, the American Library Association (ALA), along with several higher education and library organizations, released a set of net neutrality principles ” they recommend form the basis of an upcoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to protect the openness of the Internet. The groups believe network neutrality protections are essential to protecting freedom of speech, educational achievement, and economic growth.” The full press release from ALA can be found here, but the principles include:

  • Ensure Neutrality on All Public Networks: Neutrality is an essential characteristic of public broadband Internet access. The principles that follow must apply to all broadband providers and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who provide service to the general public, regardless of underlying transmission technology (e.g., wireline or wireless) and regardless of local market conditions.
  • Prohibit Blocking: ISPs and public broadband providers should not be permitted to block access to legal web sites, resources, applications, or Internet-based services.
  • Protect Against Unreasonable Discrimination: Every person in the United States should be able to access legal content, applications, and services over the Internet, without “unreasonable discrimination” by the owners and operators of public broadband networks and ISPs. This will ensure that ISPs do not give favorable transmission to their affiliated content providers or discriminate against particular Internet services based on the identity of the user, the content of the information, or the type of service being provided. “Unreasonable discrimination” is the standard in Title II of the Communications Act; the FCC has generally applied this standard to instances in which providers treat similar customers in significantly different ways.
  • Prohibit Paid Prioritization: Public broadband providers and ISPs should not be permitted to sell prioritized transmission to certain content, applications, and service providers over other Internet traffic sharing the same network facilities. Prioritizing certain Internet traffic inherently disadvantages other content, applications, and service providers—including those from higher education and libraries that serve vital public interests.
  • Prevent Degradation: Public broadband providers and ISPs should not be permitted to degrade the transmission of Internet content, applications, or service providers, either intentionally or by failing to invest in adequate broadband capacity to accommodate reasonable traffic growth.
  • Enable Reasonable Network Management: Public broadband network operators and ISPs should be able to engage in reasonable network management to address issues such as congestion, viruses, and spam as long as such actions are consistent with these principles. Policies and procedures should ensure that legal network traffic is managed in a content-neutral manner.
  • Provide Transparency: Public broadband network operators and ISPs should disclose network management practices publicly and in a manner that 1) allows users as well as content, application, and service providers to make informed choices; and 2) allows policy-makers to determine whether the practices are consistent with these network neutrality principles. This rule does not require disclosure of essential proprietary information or information that jeopardizes network security.
  • Continue Capacity-Based Pricing of Broadband Internet Access Connections: Public broadband providers and ISPs may continue to charge consumers and content, application, and service providers for their broadband connections to the Internet, and may receive greater compensation for greater capacity chosen by the consumer or content, application, and service provider.
  • Adopt Enforceable Policies: Policies and rules to enforce these principles should be clearly stated and transparent. Any public broadband provider or ISP that is found to have violated these policies or rules should be subject to penalties, after being adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Accommodate Public Safety: Reasonable accommodations to these principles can be made based on evidence that such accommodations are necessary for public safety, health, law enforcement, national security, or emergency situations.
  • Maintain the Status Quo on Private Networks: Owners and operators of private networks that are not openly available to the general public should continue to operate according to the long-standing principle and practice that private networks are not subject to regulation. End users (such as households, companies, coffee shops, schools, or libraries) should be free to decide how they use the broadband services they obtain from network operators and ISPs.