Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has announced that reinstating net neutrality protections will be on the agenda for the full FCC meeting on October 19, 2023. According to a fact sheet released by Rosenworcel, “the Chairwoman is proposing the FCC take the first procedural steps toward reaffirming rules that would treat broadband internet service as an essential service for American life.”
ALA released the following statement by President Emily Drabinski:
“The American Library Association is heartened that FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is moving swiftly to restore the vital principles for strong network neutrality. A now-full complement of commissioners must affirm this effort in their October meeting. Preserving the unimpeded flow of information over the public internet and ensuring equitable access for all people and institutions is critical to our nation’s social, cultural, educational and economic well-being.
“A world in which libraries and other noncommercial enterprises are limited to the Internet’s ‘slow lanes’ while HD movies can obtain preferential treatment undermines a central priority for a democratic society: citizens must be able to inform themselves and each other just as effectively as the major commercial and media interests inform them.”
Network neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should treat all data equally and should not discriminate or provide preference to any data regardless of its source, content, or destination. In February 2015, FCC approved rules that required internet service providers to treat all internet traffic equally and gave internet users the most robust net neutrality protections to date. In late 2017, the FCC eliminated those rules.
Net neutrality is essential for libraries to meet their public mission and is an expression of their professional values. America’s libraries collect, create, and disseminate essential information to the public over the internet. Libraries also ensure users can access the internet and create and distribute their own digital content and applications.