Dangerous Liaisons - UW Libraries

December 20, 2017

A Net Neutrality Snapshot  

Chloe Horning

Earlier in the month, I wrote about the Critical Pedagogy Summit, and Ivette Bayo Urban’s work around communicating the importance of Net Neutrality and its implications for social justice. 

Welp, it turns out that Joni Mitchell was right again, and we didn’t know what we had until now that it’s gone. But ISPs haven’t paved our internet paradise just yet, so let’s take stock of where we are.

I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple of days, and the news keeps changing, hour to hour. So, consider this post a snapshot in time: everything your colleague knows right this minute about the implications of the Net Neutrality rollback for libraries.

Last week the FCC voted pretty much as expected along party lines to repeal Obama-era regulations on Net Neutrality. Reuters has a quick summary of how it went down. 

For librarians, the ruling runs counter to our professional values, as the ALA has supported Net Neutrality for some time, and “strenuously opposes,” the current repeal order.

So far, the best article I’ve seen for getting at questions about how this ruling will affect libraries, is this interview on the Verge with the President of NYPL. 

But it’s still very unclear how, specifically, academic libraries will be affected, particularly here in Washington state where our governor has already made a play to protect Net Neutrality locally.  

And of course, in the immediate term, we won’t see changes right away. The most likely short-term outcome at the consumer level is shaping up to be “internet fast lanes.” There will be a multi-state (our state is part of it) lawsuit against the Commission, and possibly a senate vote that could reverse this ruling. Unsurprisingly, the net neutrality repeal is quite unpopular with voters, regardless of party affiliation.  Which could affect the congressional outcome.  In fact, just yesterday a republican congresswoman introduced a bill to soften the ruling.

But, in spite of the many ways in which the ruling is being challenged, changes will go into effect in the weeks and months to come, so librarians should be prepared for what that could mean.

So, let’s expect the worst, hope for the best, and take a moment to enjoy the fact that we work in fortresses filled with analog sources of information.