Washington eBulletin – May 2017

Vol. 2017 Issue 05

A Look Ahead

What to Expect on Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission Chairman (FCC) Ajit Pai has followed through on his stated commitment to roll back the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order protecting net neutrality, laying out his plans in a speech last month titled “The Future of Internet Freedom“. In his speech, delivered at the Newseum in Washington, DC, Chairman Pai described his intention to return to what he called the “light-touch” regulatory framework for the internet. Unfortunately, this means dismantling the legal foundations of net neutrality found in Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

On April 27, the FCC released its public draft of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on “Restoring Internet Freedom” (WC Docket No. 17-108)”. The NRPM seeks comment on whether it should keep, modify, or eliminate the three bright-line rules of no blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization deals, and proposes giving authority to the Federal Trade Commission to police the privacy practices of internet service providers. The FCC will vote on the NPRM at its May 18 meeting.

It’s unclear how the FCC will be able to make these changes under Title II of the Communications Act, as it did under the Open Internet Order. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2015 Order last June, and rejected a request earlier this week to reconsider its decision.

AALL published a press release on April 27, stating our opposition to the Chairman’s proposal. AALL President Ronald E. Wheeler Jr. said, “Without net neutrality, law libraries may be unable to provide equal access to the legal information their users need. We oppose efforts by the new FCC chairman to roll back the Open Internet Order, and we will continue to work to protect an open internet. Without free and fair access to information, there is no access to justice.”

Many AALL members contacted their members of Congress on AALL’s Virtual Lobby Day to urge their lawmakers to protect the Open Internet Order. If you haven’t yet spoken out, you can still take action through our Action Center. For more information, see our our policy page on net neutrality.

Act Now

Mark Your Calendars – Advocacy Leadership Session in Austin

Mark your calendars for AALL’s advocacy training in Austin, Advocacy Leadership: Skills for Influence and Action, which will be held on Tuesday, July 18 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Recent threats to access to government information, open government, and privacy–including debates over the Copyright Office and net neutrality–have highlighted the importance of law librarian advocacy like never before. AALL’s advocacy training will familiarize you with the issues at the top of our public policy agenda and assist you in developing the skills you need to influence policymakers at the federal and state levels.

You’ll hear from experienced AALL advocates who will answer your questions about influencing pro-law library policies, and you’ll have the opportunity to write to your members of Congress on our most urgent issues. For the first time since its inception, the advocacy training is being held during regular conference programming. Advance registration for the session is NOT required.

Virtual Lobby Day – Thank You!

Thanks to the participation of many of you, our Virtual Lobby Day on April 26 was a success. AALL members sent hundreds of emails to Capitol Hill in support of our top priorities. The most popular action alert was in support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, followed by funding for the Legal Services Corporation and net neutrality. If you were unable to participate in our Lobby Day, there’s still time to take action; visit our Action Center to write to your members of Congress in support of these important issues that impact the profession and the public.

AALL in the States

Sixteen UELMA Enactments

We’re pleased to report that the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) has become law in Washington, bringing the total number of enactments to 16. Many thanks go to our advocates Anna Endter and Peggy Jarrett, who, with the support of the Law Librarians of Puget Sound and the Western Pacific chapter of AALL, worked tirelessly to get UELMA over the finish line in Washington.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL wrote in support of the OPEN Data Act, which would establish a comprehensive policy across the federal government to ensure that government data is accessible to the public by default.
  • We wrote to Congress in support of public access to CRS reports. We expect this issue to come up during the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch’s hearing on funding for the Library of Congress on May 3.
  • We were disappointed that the House voted on April 26 to approve the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 1695), which makes the position of the Register of Copyrights subject to Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. AALL urges the Senate to reject the measure.