WASHINGTON, DC — The American Library Association (ALA) continues the fight for an open internet for all. In comments filed at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), ALA questions the need to review current net neutrality rules and urges regulators to maintain the strong, enforceable rules already in place.
“Network neutrality is all about equity of access to information, and thus of fundamental interest to libraries,” said ALA President Jim Neal. “The 2015 Open Internet Order is the right reading of the law, and we do not see any reason for the FCC to arbitrarily return to this issue now. Without strong, enforceable rules protecting the open internet—like those outlined in the FCC’s 2015 Order—libraries cannot fulfill their missions, serve their patrons or support America’s communities.”
The ALA comments, filed with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), make clear that our nation’s 120,000 libraries—and their patrons—depend on fair access to broadband networks for basic services they provide in communities like connecting people to unbiased research, job searches, e-government services, health information and economic opportunity.
Moreover, as people increasingly turn from being solely content consumers to content producers, access to the internet and other library resources empower all to participate fully in today’s vibrant digital economy. And, the comments note, the library community has always had the professional and philosophical mission of preserving the unimpeded flow of information and intellectual freedom. Libraries believe ensuring equitable access for all people and institutions is critical to our nation’s social, cultural, educational and economic well-being and the existing net neutrality rules protect that access.
Absent strong, enforceable rules, commercial ISPs have financial incentives to interfere with the openness of the internet in ways that are likely to be harmful to people who use the internet content and services provided by libraries. Being able to prioritize their own content over anything else available online would allow ISPs to reap huge dividends at internet users’ expense. Pointing to increasing consolidation in the fixed and mobile broadband markets, the comments argue that these rules are becoming more necessary, not less.
The organizations filing comments today have a long history of advocating for the open internet, most recently sending letters to the FCC and Congressional leaders articulating Net Neutrality Principles that should form the basis of any review of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order.