|Weekly News Digest
December 23, 2010 — In addition to this week's NewsBreak(s), the editors have compiled the Weekly News Digest, featuring stories from the week just past that you should know about. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today.
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FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules
The Federal Communications Commission announced that is has “acted to preserve the Internet as an open network enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, user control, competition and the freedom to innovate.” Chairman Genachowski voted for the Order; Commissioner Copps concurred and Commissioner Clyburn approved in part and concurred in part. Commissioners McDowell and Baker dissented.
These rules were developed following a public rulemaking process that began in fall 2009 and included input from more than 100,000 individuals and organizations and several public workshops. The rules require all broadband providers to publicly disclose network management practices, restrict broadband providers from blocking internet content and applications, and bar fixed broadband providers from engaging in unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic. The FCC says that the rules ensure much-needed transparency and continued internet openness, while making clear that broadband providers can effectively manage their networks and respond to market demands
However, the FCC says that “Mobile broadband presents special considerations that suggest differences in how and when open Internet protections should apply. Mobile broadband is an earlier-stage platform than fixed broadband, and it is rapidly evolving.”
The rules are set to take effect early in 2011. However, most observers feel that the rules will be tested in the courts and Republicans in Congress plan to challenge the rules.
The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and EDUCAUSE say the FCC passage of its neutrality order is a first step toward restoring an open internet but does not go far enough to ensure community anchor institutions’ content and services can be equally accessed by the public. While the associations say the FCC’s clarification of the word “consumer” guarantees the rule will apply to libraries and other educational interests, additional provisions sought by the associations are needed to achieve “true” net neutrality. The order does not hold wireless to the same non-discriminatory standards as wireline access, despite the growing number of libraries and users that utilize wireless technology to access content and information. Additionally, the practice of paid-prioritization must be banned to protect libraries and educational interests from being charged more to provide the public with the same quality of access to their educational and non-profit content.
Source: FCC, ARL
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