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OMB Signs Off On FCC Net Neutrality Rules

On September 12, 2011, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) signed off on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Open Internet Order (aka Net Neutrality) following their review of the rules this summer, per the Paperwork Reduction Act. Passing this final hurdle allows the FCC to now finalize and formally publish the rules; this is expected in the next few weeks.

The FCC Open Internet Order "preserve[s] the Internet as an open platform for innovation, investment, job creation, economic growth, competition, and free expression." It consists of three rules:

  1. Transparency. Fixed and mobile broadband providers must disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics, and terms and conditions of their broadband services;
  2. No blocking. Fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or block applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services; and
  3. No unreasonable discrimination. Fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.

This is a major achievement for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and a fulfillment of an Obama campaign promise. Earlier in the year, House Republicans voted to repeal the rules, but failed due to support of the rules by Senate Democrats and the White House. In February 2011, EDUCAUSE, along with the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries, sent a letter to members of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, asking them not to overturn the net neutrality decision adopted by the FCC. In the letter, the signatories state, " [We] believe that preserving an open Internet is essential to our nation's educational achievement, freedom of speech, and economic growth," and that "Without an open and neutral Internet, there is great risk that prioritized delivery to end users will be available only to content, application and service providers who pay extra fees, an enormous disadvantage to libraries, education, and other non-profit institutions."

For more information, visit the EDUCAUSE Net Neutrality resource library.