Net Neutrality is critical to science. Data traveling through a network equally, regardless of the source, destination, or content of that data is important for the progress and democratization of science. We encourage you to speak up for Net Neutrality this week (and have even shared some text for you to send)!
- Learn about how the repeal of current Net Neutrality rules may affect academics.
Submit your comment to the FCC by following these simple instructions.
Finally some text for you to use:
As an academic [specify] researcher, I am writing to urge retaining current guidelines on net neutrality adopted by the FCC in 2015. The breadth and pace of scientific research is facilitated by open access to databases, journals, and colleagues throughout the US and internationally. This level playing field permits access to information, regardless of its auspices, content, or sponsors. This is critical because, according to the Association of College Libraries* the effects of an internet “fast lane” could lead to:
1. Paid prioritization that places academic content at a disadvantage. Commercial websites like Netflix, Facebook, and Buzzfeed are more likely to be part of the “fast lane” than educational, non-profit, and personal websites. Access to the library catalog, local digital repositories, even the proxy server authentication could be de-prioritized in favor of streaming movies or social media websites (Netflix has already begun negotiations with Comcast and Verizon).
2. The cost of accessing prioritized online content could be passed to libraries. What would happen if, for example, Proquest or Ebsco made a deal with ISPs for paid prioritization in order to deliver their content to subscribers as quickly as possible? Would content providers absorb that cost or pass it on libraries in the form of higher subscription costs?
3. End users would pay more for access to "the whole internet." The two implications described above assume that content creators will pay ISPs for paid prioritization. However, it is also possible that ISPs will charge end users for premium access to certain websites or services through a tiered access model (similar to the various channel packages you can purchase through your cable provider). Which websites would be part of the "basic" internet bundle and which would require a more costly subscription? This type of service stratification would further exasperate the digital divide and disadvantage rural or lower-income users.
4. The loss of net neutrality endangers the core mission of colleges and universities. Institutions of higher education depend on open and equal access to online information in order to promote research, scholarly collaboration, and access to quality information. One could envision, slower or more costly access to scientific content that does not align with the ISP viewpoint or sponsors. Such examples might include: LGBTQ issues, reproductive health, the environment, substance, use, etc.
It is unclear why the FCC would seek to adopt a position that 60% of the American public does not support.** Science and academic progress depend upon a level internet playing field.