Librarians Read FCC Title II Riot Act

The American Library Association says the FCC under Chairman Tom Wheeler got the reading of the law right when it imposed strong net neutrality rules under Title II (common carrier) authority.

It said 120,000 libraries and their customers would be seriously disadvantaged by getting rid of the rules banning blocking traffic and degrading (the FCC's terminology is actually "throttling") traffic, and says paid prioritization is inherently unfair, especially for libraries without the money to pay for such prioritization.

But the ALA breaks with some Title II fans in arguing for capacity-based pricing and excluding private networks from net neutrality rules. On capacity-based pricing of broadband service, it says ISPs "may receive greater compensation for greater capacity chosen by the consumer or content, application, and service provider." And on private networks, it says: "[T]he Commission should decline to apply the Open Internet rules to premises operators, such as coffee shops and bookstores, and private end-user networks, such as those of libraries and universities."

Neither the 2010 Title I based net neutrality rules nor the 2015 Title II-based rules applied them to private networks. So that would be staying the course. Though some net neutrality activists argued that private networks for delivering, say a video service, could be a way to skirt net neutrality rules.

(Photo via Jeroen Bennink's Flickr. Image taken on Feb. 6, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 16x9 aspect ratio.)

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.