ACE and a number of other higher education and library organizations sent a letter March 29 to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Ajit Pai outlining a set of net neutrality principles they recommend should form the basis of any review of the FCC’s Open Internet Order.
That order, which the FCC voted 3-2 to approve in 2015, requires broadband internet service to be regulated as a public utility, a move designed to ensure that no content is blocked and that the internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes. In a 2-1 vote last June, the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld the rules.
On the higher education front, the rules say that internet service providers (ISPs) cannot limit home and mobile access to colleges and universities through practices that, for example, boost online entertainment at the expense of online learning.
The rules also prevent practices that could increase the cost of higher education by requiring institutions to pay ISPs to ensure effective home and mobile access to online courses, resources and services.
“Maintaining access to the information fast lane is essential to the academic and civic missions of our colleges and universities and to the important work done every day at those institutions by millions of students, researchers, faculty and staff,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad in a news release accompanying the letter. “These net neutrality principles, now more than ever, are needed to ensure that the Internet remains open, accessible and affordable to all.”
The cable and telecom industry and many Republicans have criticized federal efforts on net neutrality as burdensome and unnecessary.
As The New York Times pointed out yesterday, Ajit Pai was one of the two commission members who voted against the net neutrality rules in 2015. Since becoming chair, Pai has indicated that he plans to either roll back or decline to enforce many consumer protection regulations created during the Obama administration, including those regarding net neutrality, the paper reported.