The FCC Net Neutrality Rollback and Open Education

Save the Internet Protest in front of White House
Image Credit: Stephen Melkisethian, CC BY-NC 2.0

In the flurry of the news cycle this week, I’ve tried to carve out some time to really understand the impending FCC Net Neutrality rollback and what it means for librarians and social justice advocates. A lot of the reporting on this issue has seized on the potential impact of the ruling on small businesses and a growing controversy over fake public comments. For librarians and activists, the FCC ruling isn’t just another issue that we’ll fume over for a couple of weeks after our efforts (sitting on hold with congressional reps and signing petitions–at least in my case) don’t stop the FCC from gutting the regulations that currently check the power of ISPs.

This ruling has significant (and potentially dire) implications for libraries, universities, and social justice advocates, particularly in relation to the open education movement. This is because FCC rollback will ultimately threaten the “open internet” and undercut core library values that promote open and equal access to information online.

Without an “open internet” the open education movement will be irreparably compromised.

Here’s why:

  • If regulations are rolled back, ISPs may start charging institutions more for content that they host and create like OERs, streaming content, online classes, and locally hosted open access scholarship
  • In a pay-to-play model, institutional and nonprofit publishers and hosting platforms may have to compete with commercial monoliths
  • ISPs may start charging commercial academic publishers more and these costs will likely be passed along to libraries
  • Increased financial burdens on libraries and institutions will worsen information access gaps between larger, well funded institutions and smaller, public institutions
  • The net neutrality rollback will also worsen the digital divide and dis-proportionally disadvantage low income communities and people of color

This FCC ruling would certainly effect CUNY, which has finally made large strides in building university wide OER and Open Scholarship initiatives in spite of budget cuts. I’m not optimistic about congressional intervention but I’m also not willing to accept the rollback sitting down.

What can we do?

Sign (more) petitions!

Call your congressional reps

Attend a protest

Learn more:

A Lump of Coal in the Internet’s Stocking: FCC Poised to Gut Net Neutrality Rules

Keeping up with….Net Neutrality

The Importance of Net Neutrality to Research Libraries in the Digital Age

Net Neutrality Rollback Concerns Colleges

Why #netneutrality Matters to Higher Ed

Here’s Why the Broadband Debate Matters for You



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