WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the American Library Association (ALA) condemned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s vote on Thursday that begins undoing strong net neutrality protections. If the 2015 Open Internet Order is weakened, the FCC Chairman will undermine safeguards demanded by millions of Americans and affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to ensure equitable access to and distribution of online information and services for all.
ALA, along with an ad hoc library and higher education coalition representing more than 100,000 colleges, universities and libraries nationwide, believes no changes to current rules are necessary or desired. This coalition, which includes the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), advocated for the 2015 Open Internet Order and has continued to be engaged on this issue, most recently releasing principles essential to maintaining net neutrality.
ALA President Julie Todaro made the following statement in response to the vote:
“Net neutrality is critical to ensuring open and nondiscriminatory access to information for all, and today’s actions by the FCC endanger that. 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. Abandoning current protections endangers our mission and ability to serve our communities. The American Library Association has been on the front lines of this battle for more than a decade, and we will continue the fight for an open internet for all.
“Absent enforceable net neutrality rules, commercial internet service providers have financial incentives to prioritize transmission of content from the highest bidder, and libraries and other not-for-profit institutions do not have the deep financial pockets to pay for priority access. We are at risk of maximizing profits for commercial ISPs and large content providers, while degrading internet access and choice for libraries and ultimately all consumers.
“Librarians and library workers know that even subtle differences in internet transmission can make a significant difference in how a user receives, uses and shares digital information. We must ensure the same quality access to online educational and noncommercial content as to entertainment and for-profit offerings.
“The ALA will continue to advocate to preserve the open internet. ALA will be filing comments on the proposed rules with the FCC and will support the ALA community in adding to the public record on this critical issue.