Blogger Advocacy and Legislation Committee

Why is Net Neutrality so important to kids, libraries, consumers?

Credit: Maria Merkulova / Free Press (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Per the ALA web site Network Neutrality (or net neutrality) is the concept of online non-discrimination. It is the principle that consumers/citizens should be free to get access to—or to provide—the Internet content and services they wish, and that consumer access should not be regulated based on the nature or source of that content or service. Information providers—which may be websites, online services, etc., and who may be affiliated with traditional commercial enterprises but who also may be individual citizens, libraries, schools, or nonprofit entities—should have essentially the same quality of access to distribute their offerings.”

The current roiling controversy around Net Neutrality began with the new administration’s appointment of Ajit Pai as head of the FFC in April and his almost immediate call to make significant, deep changes to existing Net Neutrality regulations. Pai insisted that the internet (and access to it, should be no longer considered a public utility and, be essentially de-regulated and left to police itself.  This could lead to slower, more costly access to the internet at a time when more and more of library content and services require high quality internet access for our communities.

ALA has been a reliable and vocal proponent of Net Neutrality,  We are proud that ALA signed on as one of over 200 organizations opposed to this deregulation.

Many of you participated in the July 12th Day of Action and commented on the FCC proposal.  ALA’s District Dispatch reports that, “in addition to ALA’s comments, thousands of librarians and library staff from across the country filed comments on their own or via the ALA’s Action Alert… on July 12. In fact, more than 1,640 alerts had been sent through the action center as of the morning of July 13, and there were more than 140,000 impressions via Twitter and nearly 85,000 via Facebook for ALA and I Love Libraries social channels.” Thank you!

But there is still much more to be done. Do you want to continue to educate yourself about Net Neutrality? Here are three easy ways:

Become more active. Each and every ALSC member should be enrolled as a Library Advocate via District Dispatch  We will continue to look to our elected ALA leaders, the ALA Office for Informational Technology Policy (OITP) and our ALA Washington Office  for guidance and action alerts.

Get up to speed. Listen to this recent podcast from KCRW’s  To The Point: FCC’s Plan to Roll Back Net Neutrality 

Prepare for the future. Plan to attend LJ/SLJ’s free, all digital conference TechKnowledege 2017: Creating Equity Through Technology . Be sure to log on to the opening panel Building Equity and Access in a Challenged Net Neutrality Landscape. It will be convened by ALA President Jim Neal and featuring Alan Inouye of ALA’s OITP as well as reps from  The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Free Press Action Fund.


Barbara Genco is a member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee. She is a library consultant in the New York area and works with Pratt Institute and Library Journal. You can find her on Twitter @barbaraagenco.

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