Library Matters / Libraries Matter: Net Neutrality

Posted on November 29th, 2017 by

By now you’ve probably heard that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s chairman, Ajit Pai, has introduced plans to end net neutrality. The outcome of the vote, which is scheduled for December 14, is almost certain to pass, given the partisan makeup of the commission.

Ending net neutrality is troubling on a whole host of reasons. Net neutrality means internet providers must treat all websites the same. Without it, consumers will be at risk for hikes in prices for certain services. Want to watch YouTube videos (like this excellent – and not safe for work – one from John Oliver explaining the importance of net neutrality) or play online video games? You may have to pay additional fees to your provider.

Even more troubling, internet service providers would be able to slow down or even block traffic to sites. Free speech issues, anyone?

Colleges and universities are not exempt from the rollback of net neutrality, as this article from Inside Higher Education illuminates:

Higher education groups have been united in their condemnation of the net neutrality rollback, which they say could make it more difficult for students and the public to access educational resources, and potentially impose huge costs on institutions.

Libraries are democratic institutions, ensuring people have access to resource (including the internet) that help them learn and succeed in today’s world. Ask any public librarian about the digital divide and she or he will tell you stories about patrons who rely on library internet access for essential tasks like applying for jobs and communicate with friends and families. This access is at further risk if net neutrality is overturned.

The rollback of net neutrality violates core values of librarianship. A majority of Americans support net neutrality (despite initial indications from FCC comments, which were later proved to be duplicates and at least some were probably false). We encourage you to continue educating yourself on the issue in order to understand what will be lost if net neutrality is gone.

–jkg

 

Leave a Reply