This afternoon, the FCC approved their Restoring Internet Freedom Order, overturning the Open Internet Order that established net neutrality protections within the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015. PPL and the library field are strongly opposed to this decision.
Libraries rarely advocate on legal or regulatory actions, holding to our commitment to educate and inform rather than take sides. However, net neutrality principles are a core library value. Public libraries take seriously our mission to provide free and equitable information access to all members of the public as they seek to become more informed citizens and to improve the quality of their lives. Libraries strongly assert that equity of access to online information and services is critical to a healthy democracy.
As others have voiced, our concerns about the Restoring Internet Freedom Order center on whether internet service providers (ISPs) could control what and how internet content travels on their networks. This would make certain resources unavailable or slower to access for those who do not or cannot pay, and has the potential to infringe upon new online content from competitive entrepreneurs and creators looking to enter the market.
Public libraries like PPL are committed to bridge the digital divide – the social and economic inequality of access to the internet – by providing broadband, computers, and training for free and open use to our patrons, many of whom rely on the Library as a primary web access point. We are therefore extremely concerned that, without net neutrality rules in place, such access will be substantially unprotected.
Inequity of access to content could also compromise our ability to provide the breadth of information needed to serve people with diverse needs and perspectives, as we do at all of our branches and online.
PPL joins our library colleagues around the country to stand with internet founders, content providers, business people, and many millions of others in asserting that net neutrality principles must be the standard held in our society, and rules must apply to reinforce their value. We are fortunate in Maine that Senators Collins and King, and Representative Pingree made clear statements prior to the FCC’s vote in favor of preserving the Open Internet Order.
At this point, there are two ways that you can engage in the future of net neutrality. First, keep yourself informed about the issues and actions taken (see PPL’s recommended resources). Second, as an informed consumer, participate in the discussion as it moves forward and learn more about your own internet access and speed.
You can count on PPL to continue to provide complete and balanced information, to be forward-looking, and to actively defend your freedom to information access and expression.posted: , by Sarah Campbell