The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today approved new regulations that would strengthen the concept of “net neutrality” by preventing Internet service providers from blocking or slowing the delivery of services or content from rival companies.
Three of the five FCC members voted in favor of the plan.
A legal challenge over the new rules is widely expected, especially in light of April’s federal court ruling that the Internet is not within the FCC’s jurisdiction. In addition, the new Republican majority on Capitol Hill may be interested in examining the subject.
Potential Impact on Higher Education
The principle of net neutrality is central to the missions of most higher education institutions. In a March letter to the FCC, ACE and 10 other higher education and library institutions and organizations asserted that simple, flexible policies are necessary to safeguard the open nature of the Internet and to protect the free flow of information and educational content.
“Research, collaboration, distance education, job training and placement, catalog sharing, access to government data and services, and much more all depend upon open and unfettered access to the Internet,” the groups wrote. “We believe it is vitally important that policymakers act now to preserve the open Internet for our institutions, our users, and the public at large.”
The letter’s signatories urge the adoption of net neutrality principles including non-discrimination and transparency, while allowing for reasonable practices to manage technical issues such as congestion and spam.