The International Alliance of Research Library Associations (IARLA)—a global coalition of several major research and academic library associations in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the United States, including the Association of Research Libraries—commits to the principles of net neutrality.
IARLA fully supports the principles of net neutrality as a means to ensure equitable access to online information and services for all.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should not be allowed to give preference to, influence, or discriminate against online content based on its ideology, origin, format, content, or destination, and that all content should be equally available to all. As such, net neutrality protections prevent internet service providers from prioritizing delivery speed and connectivity for content creators they support or who are willing to pay additional fees, and from creating different pricing plans that limit access to specific information and services. Net neutrality is essential to innovation and a level market, as it ensures that the content shared by large corporations is not prioritized over that of nonprofit organizations, start-ups, and minority groups, and that access to information is not determined by how much a user is able/willing to spend on cable-like internet packages.
We are particularly concerned by the recent decision of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to eliminate protections for net neutrality. Not only is this likely to affect research and educational materials that route through the US, possibly limiting the range of information and services available worldwide, but it also sets a disturbing precedent.
IARLA wishes to emphasize that protecting net neutrality is an important part of ensuring the continuation of the open internet. An open internet is fundamental to the mission of research libraries in providing access to information, including ensuring that users can access vast data sets, preserving and sharing our cultural record, providing interconnected research and learning, and facilitating discovery. Net neutrality, at its core, is a non-discrimination law that promotes freedom of speech and allows the free and open exchange of ideas. These fundamental values—of openness, freedom of expression, diversity, and equitable and affordable access to information for all—underpin the work of the research libraries represented by IARLA.
About the International Alliance of Research Library Associations
The International Alliance of Research Library Associations (IARLA) is a coalition of five of the world’s prominent academic and research library organizations: Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Canadian Association of Research Libraries/Association des Bibliothèques de Recherche du Canada (CARL/ABRC), Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL), Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche/Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER), and Research Libraries UK (RLUK). The alliance formed in 2016 to collaboratively address the most pressing issues of scholarly research information management in the digital, networked age.