In 2015 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), after an outpouring of support from the public, put in place strict regulations to make sure  internet service providers (ISPs) could not do things like create fast lanes, or “throttle” online traffic.  They preserved an open internet where all traffic is treated equally online and where large corporations did not get preferential treatment over individuals or small institutions, like libraries or schools.  The American Library Association (ALA) has long been a supporter of net neutrality–keeping the Internet open and free to everyone–and has issued several statements on the topic.  Net neutrality aligns closely with libraries’ core value of providing free and open access to information for everyone.  You can learn more and keep up to date on developments from their District Dispatch blog.  This week, the Trump administration proposed rolling back those regulations with an ironically named “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal, and they are now accepting public comments about the proposal. 

If the regulations are rolled back, places like libraries could become subject to Internet slow downs.  In addition, the Internet would become a closed-down network where groups like cable and phone companies would have the authority to decide which websites, online content or applications could succeed.  This is especially distressing because, as Save the Internet points out, “the open internet allows people of color and other vulnerable communities to bypass traditional media gatekeepers. Without Net Neutrality, ISPs could block speech and prevent dissident voices from speaking freely online. Without Net Neutrality, people of color would lose a vital platform.”  In order to prevent this from happening, please take a few moments to submit your comments via this online form from the FCC and ask that the existing net neutrality regulations be kept in place, and encourage others to do so, too.  You and other library supporters can also Tweet your comments @FCC and their chairperson, @AjitPaiFCC and contact your members of Congress.

To learn more about the issue in a format that’s more entertaining than this blog post, check out this 2015 video segment from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight show.

-Beth Yoke

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