ALA and ACRL join higher education, library groups to urge FCC and Congress to uphold net neutrality

For Immediate Release
Thu, 03/30/2017

Contact:

Shawnda Hines

Press Officer

Washington Office

American Library Association

202-628-8208

shines@alawash.org

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Library Association (ALA) and Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) continue the fight for an open Internet for all. ALA and ACRL joined 8 other higher education and library organizations representing over a hundred thousand colleges, universities, and libraries nationwide in sending a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly as well as Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) articulating Net Neutrality Principles that should form the basis of any review of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order.

“America’s libraries collect, create, curate, and disseminate essential information to the public over the Internet, and enable our users to build and distribute their own digital content and applications,” said ALA President Julie Todaro. “Network neutrality is essential to ensuring open and nondiscriminatory access to information for all.  The American Library Association is proud to stand with other education and learning organizations in outlining core principles for preserving the open Internet as a vital platform for free speech, innovation, and civic engagement.”

As providers of free information, Internet access, training, and technology tools, libraries are leaders in creating, fostering, using, extending, and maximizing the potential of the Internet for research, education, teaching and learning, and the public good. When access to information is unequal, the library and its staff cannot do its part in protecting intellectual freedom. 

The signatories of today’s letter are extremely concerned that, absent sufficient protections, Internet providers have incentives to block or degrade (e.g., arbitrarily slow) certain Internet traffic, or prioritize certain services, while relegating access to information, learning, and other public services to the “slow lane.”

“In the modern era, the Internet is the primary open platform for information exchange, intellectual discourse, research, civic engagement, teaching, and learning,” said Irene Herold, ACRL President and University Librarian at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. “College and university libraries are prolific providers and users of content, services and applications in which a privileged—or non-neutral—Internet would create a significant detrimental barrier.  Having this innovative content openly available upholds our values of academic freedom and serves the public interest and common good.”

The groups signing today’s letter support the FCC’s February 2015 Order and believe that it has served the interests of consumers, broadband providers, libraries, and higher education. In addition they note that the process to get to this point produced unprecedented public support for strong net neutrality protections: the rulemaking process that led to the 2015 Order generated the greatest number of public comments in the agency’s history, which were overwhelmingly pro-net neutrality. And the ruling was subsequently affirmed by a federal appeals court.

The proposed principles call upon the FCC to ban blocking, degradation, and “paid prioritization”; ensure that the same rules apply to fixed and mobile broadband providers; promote greater transparency of broadband services; and prevent providers from treating similar customers in significantly different ways. 

These groups support strong, enforceable rules to ensure that higher education and libraries can continue to deliver online educational and public interest content at a level of speed and quality on par with commercial providers. In 2014, a group of education and library groups issued a set of principles as the FCC developed its 2015 order. These organizations believe these key principles are just as valid now as they were then, and they are urging policymakers at the FCC, in Congress, and in the Executive Branch to base any future policies on them.  

The organizations endorsing these principles are:

American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)

American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)

American Council on Education (ACE)

American Library Association (ALA)

Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)

Association of Research Libraries (ARL)

Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA)

EDUCAUSE

Modern Language Association (MLA)

For the full text of the letter, including the principles, visit http://isbx.it/daf03