Tag Archives | Internet

Net Neutrality: What’s New in 2015?

netneutrality

Last year, Global Currents reported on the history and current rulings relating to net neutrality. In light of recent decisions from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on this issue, this post will bring you up to speed on what’s happening now.

Net neutrality is the idea that all content on the Internet be treated equally. In other words, under net neutrality legislation, Internet service providers (ISPs) will not be able to give preference to certain websites, or allow for Internet “fast lanes” to companies who pay more.

We left off our last post on the issue when the FCC was opening a four-month window for public input before passing further legislation. At this time, the United States Court of Appeals ruling on Verizon vs. FCC held that previous rules pertaining to net neutrality produced by the FCC were not valid, because ISPs were not common carriers. This meant that ISPs fell outside of the realm of authority for the FCC, under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C.).  This is one of the important things that has changed in the past year.

In November of 2014, President Obama released a statement on net neutrality. Obama urged the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a utility, which would make it a common carrier and allow the commission to regulate ISPs.  He stated, “For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access into and out of your home or business. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information — whether a phone call or a packet of data.”

On February 26th, 2015, the FCC followed this advice and voted to reclassify the Internet as a common carrier. Along with this decision came the FCC’s new Open Internet Rules, which were released to the public on March 12th. The three rules are:

  • No blocking – ISPs cannot block any lawful content from consumers.
  • No throttling – ISPs cannot control the Internet speed for any content or services, regardless of the applications or devices being used.
  • No paid prioritization – ISPs cannot provide faster Internet service in exchange for payment. This means there cannot be any “fast lanes” of Internet content.

But, the FCC’s latest decision is not the end-all solution for net neutrality. The debate rages on as ISPs like Verizon and AT&T, and many (mostly Republican) lawmakers argue that the ruling places too much regulation on Internet service and will stifle innovation. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has been called to several meetings with lawmakers since the ruling, being forced to explain and defend the commission’s position.  The conversation on this issue is definitely not over, and it remains to be seen what will become of the FCC’s latest ruling.

The sources below will help you brush up on the net neutrality issue!

Web Resources

FCC.gov – Open Internet

What is net neutrality and what does it mean for me? – USA Today

How Net Neutrality Works (Video) – New York Times

The Open Internet: A Case for Net Neutrality

Government Docs

The FCC Rulings:

The Communications Act of 1934:

Verizon vs. FCC

Additional places to search for U.S. legislation:

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The Lyon Declaration and the Role of Libraries in Development

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On August 18th, at the 80th IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) General Conference and Assembly, IFLA released the Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development.

The UN post-2015 Development Agenda is the plan currently under construction to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a framework for global development. The MDGs consist of eight specific goals, from eradicating poverty to promoting gender equality to reducing child mortality, and have been the impetus for a wide range of programs since their implementation in 2000. The 2010 High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the MDGs called upon UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to begin the process of constructing a post-2015 development plan.  As a result, the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda was created, as well as a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons to advise on the post-2015 developmental framework.

Part of the post-2015 development planning process is the call for an “inclusive dialogue” in the creation of the goals.  In order to open up the dialogue and utilize the input of people and organizations worldwide, the UN launched “The World We Want 2015,” an interactive survey that allows people to voice their opinions on what should be included in the post-2015 developmental agenda.  This website also provides visualizations of the data that has been collected so far.

In this spirit of “inclusive dialogue,” The Lyon Declaration is an advocacy document that aims to influence the UN’s post-2015 Development Agenda.  It outlines the importance of access to information and knowledge in development and individual empowerment.

Freedom of information has long been considered a human rights issue.  In the first session of the United Nations in 1946, Resolution 59(I), adopted by the General Assembly, stated, “Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and … the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated.”

The rise of the Internet has transformed the ways in which people access information and has opened up possibilities for information dissemination that the delegates of that first UN session in 1946 could never have imagined.  The Internet provides the unprecedented opportunity to support development by empowering individuals with information that facilitates education, increases job opportunities, provides connections to cultural heritage, and allows for civil participation in governmental processes.  The Lyon Declaration asserts that the equitable access to this information should be part of a human-rights based framework for development.

Another important aspect of the Lyon Declaration is its emphasis on the role of libraries, archives, and civil service organizations as facilitators of information dissemination.  By outlining the role that these organizations can play in providing information access to individuals and communities, the declaration urges the UN and the world to recognize them as human rights institutions.  While it is important to have the Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to disseminate information to people, it is just as important to have institutions present that can bridge the gap between the technology and the people that it serves.  As Kay Mathiesen states in a recent article on information access and human rights, “libraries provide a centralized access point so that people know where to get information and they organize information so that people can find what they need and explore further.” The Lyon Declaration points out to the world the importance of libraries in development and places libraries at the cornerstone of the effort to empower individuals through knowledge and information fluency.

As of October 2nd, 2014, the Lyon Declaration had over 350 signatories, made up of libraries, institutions, and organizations all over the world.  IFLA plans to continue to the campaign to include information access in the final Post-2015 Development Agenda.  On October 6th, IFLA released a toolkit to assist library professionals who are interacting with government policymakers in successfully arguing for the role of libraries in development.  The UN expects to release the final Post-2015 Development Agenda by December of 2015, and undoubtedly IFLA will continue to push for the recognition of the Lyon Declaration until this final release.

Check out the resources below to learn more!

Web Resources

The Lyon Declaration – One Month On – IFLA

The Lyon Declaration Tackles Information Access and Sustainable Development – Information Today

Millennium Development Goals and the Post-2015 Agenda – UN

Africa: Fight Poverty – With Data –All Africa

The World We Want 2015

How Libraries can Support Development – The Guardian

IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto – 1994

Beyond Access – Library Partnerships

U.N. report: Internet access is a human right

 

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Rad, S. T., Kurt, Ş. Ş., & Polatöz, S. S. (2013). Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Rural Mersın (Turkey); Prospects For Rural Development. Journal Of Tekirdag Agricultural Faculty10(3), 97-106.

Gelb, E., A. Maru, J. Brodgen, E. Dodsworth, R. Samii, V. Pesee, 2008. Adoption of ICT Enabled Information Systems for Agricultural Development and Rural Viability

Ceeehini, S. and C. Scott, 2003. Can Information and Communications Technology Applications Contributeto Poverty Reduction? Lessons From Rural India. Information Technology for Development 10(2003)73-84.

Mendel, Tony. Freedom of Information as an Internationally Protected Human Right.

Mathiesen, Kay. 2009 Access to Information as a Human Right. Conference Paper.

 

Books Available at UIUC Libraries

Al-Suqri, Mohammed Nasser, Lillard, Linda L., Al-Saleem, Naifa Eid. (Eds.) (2014). Information access and library user needs in developing countries. Hershey, PA : Information Science Reference.

Browne, Stephen, Weiss, Thomas George. (Eds.) (2014). Post-2015 UN development: making change happen. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY.

Gready, Paul, Vandenhole, Wouter. (Eds.) (2014). Human rights and development in the new millennium: towards a theory of change. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Njobvu, Benson, Koopman, Sjoerd M. J.. (Eds.) (2008). Libraries and information services towards the attainment of the UN millennium development goals. München : K. G. Saur.

Steyn, Jacques., Van Belle, Jean-Paul, Villanueva, Mansilla, Eduardo. (Eds.) (2011). ICTs for global development and sustainability practice and applications. Hershey, Pa. : IGI Global.

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