Restore Net Neutrality
The President’s pledge to close the great digital divide and upgrade access to the digital age for all Americans has been jeopardized by a recent federal court ruling (Verizon vs. FCC). On January 14 the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet policies pertaining to "Net Neutrality" were overturned because ISPs have not been classified as "common carriers.” Under Net Neutrality every site on the internet is equally accessible to the user. At best, the president's goal of equal access could now be delayed for a few years during an appeals process. At worst, low-income and rural areas could become second-class citizens of the digital age:
• ISPs could charge companies for access to its users.
• ISPs could charge users for access to certain services.
• ISPs could technically censor/block the sites its customers visit.
• Internet companies could create a tiered pricing system for certain types of online traffic, similar to purchasing premium channels from cable providers.
Barbara Stripling, President of the American Library Association who served as the director of library programs for 1,700 New York City schools, is concerned that public libraries — and the communities they serve — will be the ones to lose; "Americans rely upon public availability of government services, licensed databases, job-training videos, medical and scientific research, and many other essential services." Stripling warns that the hardest hit would be students and rural residents lacking access to computers or updated technology. According to a 2013 report in The Washington Post, fewer than 20 percent of the nation's educators believe that the Internet connections at their schools meet their teaching needs.
To join a petition to restore Net Neutrality visit the White House website “We the People” created to identify issues with strong support. The Net Neutrality petition urges the President to direct the FCC to classify ISPs as "common carriers" so that the words of the FCC chairman may be fulfilled: “I am committed to maintaining our networks as engines for economic growth, test beds for innovative services and products, and channels for all forms of speech protected by the First Amendment.”