The next move for net neutrality

Threats to net neutrality continue to be a serious concern for libraries, concurrent with the extraordinary pressures around the Institute of Museum and Library Services, created by the President’s Budget Blueprint. (For more on the FY 2018 appropriations process, please go to Fight for Libraries!, a new advocacy portal.) Today, however, the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) made our next move to defend the hard-won Open Internet Order adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly, ALA and ACRL – joined by eight other higher education and library organizations – articulated net neutrality principles that should form the basis of any review of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order. The letter was also hand-delivered by ALA’s Office of Government Relations today to the leaders of Congress’ Commerce Committees in both the Senate (Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL)) and the House (Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR-2) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6)), and shared with other key Members of Congress.

This week’s letter follows hard on the heels of a broader but similar letter sent on March 7 to Chairman Pai and his colleagues, signed by ALA and 170 other organizations.

In a news release regarding our most recent communication to the Commission, ALA President Julie Todaro stated:

“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. 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.”

ACRL President Irene Herold affirmed:

“In the modern era, the Internet is the primary open platform for information exchange, intellectual discourse, research, civic engagement, teaching, and learning. 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.”

We appreciate the engagement of ALA and ACRL members on this issue. We will need even stronger interest and support in the coming weeks. Hope to see you at National Library Legislative Day.

About Alan Inouye

Alan S. Inouye is the director of ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). Previously, he was the coordinator of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee in the Executive Office of the President and a study director at the National Academy of Sciences. Alan completed his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley.

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