Net Neutrality from a Librarian’s Perspective ☆

| January 27, 2014

For a while now, I’ve followed the net neutrality debate and thought about how it affects me as a consumer (read: mildly obsessive Netflix watcher); but more recently, I’ve begun to think of it from a professional perspective. Last week, I came across an op-ed on Wired, written by Barbara Stripling, the president of ALA. Stripling condemns the federal court’s decision to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order. As a librarian, she believes that this decision is destructive for four main reasons:

1. Net neutrality ensures equal access to educational and entertaining content. Without it, the Kardashians will be granted priority over the Brontes.

2. Net neutrality allows everyone on the web to be an innovator. Without it, small content creators will become increasingly marginalized as they lose their fair chance to compete for web traffic.

3.  Net neutrality keeps ISPs from preferentially charging premium prices for access. Without it, public libraries will have to make budgetary sacrifices in order to continue offering internet services.

4. Net neutrality allows libraries to be content creators by providing access to multimedia content that has historically been unavailable to the public. Without it, libraries will face enormous challenges in order to continue obtaining, creating, and sharing such information.

For these reasons, Stripling concludes that ending net neutrality, “flies in the face of intellectual freedom, a key library community principle that supports the right of all people to seek information without restriction.” As a library student, I feel that it is important that I have an informed opinion of net neutrality; and it’s helpful to have voices such as Stripling’s to help me continue to develop my thoughts from a professional perspective.

For more on net neutrality, I recommend watching this clip from The Colbert Report and reading this short article from the Washington Post.