Earlier today, a federal district court struck down net neutrality, the nondiscrimination rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) governing how internet service providers deliver online information. ALA President Barbara K. Stripling swiftly responded to the decision in Verizon v. FCC (PDF file) by expressing the Association’s disappointment at this blow to a principle ALA has long advocated:
“The American Library Association is extremely disappointed with today’s decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down the FCC’s “Net Neutrality” decision. ALA has been a long-time supporter of the free flow of information for all people. Now that the internet has become the primary mechanism for delivering information, services, and applications to the general public, it is especially important that commercial Internet Service Providers are not able to control or manipulate the content of these communications.
“The court’s decision gives commercial companies the astounding legal authority to block internet traffic, give preferential treatment to certain internet services or applications, and steer users to or away from certain websites based on their own commercial interests. This ruling, if it stands, will adversely affect the daily lives of Americans and fundamentally change the open nature of the internet, where uncensored access to information has been a hallmark of the communication medium since its inception.
“Public libraries have become leading providers of public internet access, providing service to millions of students, elderly citizens, people seeking employment and many others every single day. Approximately 77 million people use public library Internet access every year. These users of libraries’ internet services, and people all across the country, deserve equal access to online information and services.
“The ability of the internet to spread and share ideas is only getting better. With modern technology, individuals and small groups can produce rich audio and video resources that used to be the exclusive domain of large companies. We must work to ensure that these resources are not relegated to second-class delivery on the internet—or else the intellectual freedoms fostered by the internet will be seriously constrained. ALA will work with policy-makers and explore every avenue possible to restore the long-standing principle of nondiscrimination to all forms of broadband access to the internet.”
For more on network neutrality, visit ala.org/advocacy/telecom/netneutrality.