This Week’s Activities to Save Net Neutrality

Because the Internet Shouldn't Have a Slow Lane Libraries TransformFrom the ALA Washington Office District Dispatch blog:

This Thursday, December 14, 2017, the FCC is expected to vote on a proposal from Chairman Ajit Pai that would rollback the strong, enforceable net neutrality protections established in 2015. The meeting will be webcast, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm EST.

As John Lewis said, “Every voice matters, and we cannot let the interests of profit silence the voices of those pursuing human dignity.” The American Library Association (ALA) understands that net neutrality enables opportunities for all by protecting an open and accessible internet – so that every voice, idea, information seeker and person gets a chance to prosper using the dominant communications platform of our day.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, the vote this week will likely be a giant step backwards, but we and our allies will continue to vehemently advocate for a neutral net. Here are a few things going on this week:

Putting the pressure on Congress
Advocates have asked members of Congress to step in, as overseers of the FCC, to stop the impending vote on Thursday. Thousands of calls and emails have been sent from across the country, including nearly 37,000 emails using the ALA’s library-specific action alert. The ALA also is one of more than 150 groups (including individual libraries!) that have signed a joint letter to House and Senate committee leaders.

Also yesterday, 21 Internet and tech leaders, headlined by Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf and Steve Wozniak, and including inventors, innovators and creators of many of the fundamental technologies of the Internet, sent a letter to Congress with their own concerns.

Wait for the FTC?
Proponents of the draft order that will be voted on this Thursday have claimed consumers will still be protected from potential internet service provider misbehavior by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But any day now, a federal court is expected to rule on a case that has serious implications for the FTC’s ability to help broadband consumers. At the end of last week, consumer groups and advocates including ALA asked the FCC to wait on any decision on net neutrality until this case is decided.

Making some noise
While we hope the efforts above will have an impact, advocates also are focused on activities to coincide with this week’s FCC meeting, including vigils, rallies and continued online engagement. Here are a few ways that you can add your voice:

  • Join Break the Internet Day by calling or emailing Congress via the ALA action alert on December 12.
  • Join protests online with some suggested social media messages on December 13 and 14:
    • Hey @AjitPaiFCC – America’s 120,000 libraries depend on equitable and robust access to the internet to serve our communities. We need #netneutrality!
    • .@FCC – Our libraries’ digital collections, podcasts, video tutorials, and more rely on an open internet. @AjitPaiFCC, keep #netneutrality!
    • #netneutrality is the First Amendment of the internet. @FCC, please protect the right to read, create and share freely without commercial gatekeepers.
    • OR tell us a story about what net neutrality means for your library and tag @ALALibrary, @FCC, @AjitPaiFCC

Stay tuned for additional actions if the FCC continues to ignore millions of people. Know that we would be far from game over as we seek relief in federal court–along with our many, many allied organizations.