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Letter From Higher Ed and Library Groups Supports Net Neutrality

Various higher education and library organizations representing thousands of colleges, universities nationwide Thursday sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Reily, urging them to uphold the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order. The groups believe that the strong net neutrality protections set by the order are essential to protecting freedom of speech, educational achievement and economic growth, according to the letter.

Net neutrality means that a broadband internet provider should enable access to all content and applications, and not block, slow or otherwise unfairly discriminate against any websites or online services. Since Pai was appointed as FCC chair, consumer advocates have been worried that the open internet will be dismantled. Pai has indicated that the FCC will roll back the Open Internet Order.

The groups (listed below) argue that internet access service providers (ISPs) “have financial incentives to interfere with the openness of the internet in ways that could be harmful to the internet and content and services provided by libraries and educational institutions,” the letter explained. For example, ISPs could sell faster or prioritized transmission to certain entities, also known as “paid prioritization.” In this example, public entities like colleges and universities that cannot afford to pay extra fees for prioritized access could be pushed to the “slow lane” on the internet.

The letter calls upon the FCC to:

  • Ban blocking, degradation and paid prioritization;
  • Ensure that the same rules apply to fixed and mobile broadband providers;
  • Promote greater transparency of broadband services; and
  • Prevent providers from treating similar customers in significantly different ways.  

Organizations endorsing these principles include:

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