net neutrality repeal worries librarians

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COLUMBIA - Today the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a plan to repeal net neutrality and librarians worry this will cause an end to the free exchange of ideas.

"Net neutrality is the first amendment of the internet," said Adult and Community Services Manager Lauren Williams at Daniel Boone Regional Library. "We believe in people’s right to read and share and create freely online so we think protecting net neutrality is important."

Under the Obama-era net neutrality rule, internet service providers must manage all online content the same with equal opportunity. The Association of Research Libraries said the rule stops ISPs from creating fast lanes for those willing to pay a higher premium.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai believes net neutrality hurts expansion for broadband networks and innovation. In a statement regarding the repeal, Paj refers to net neutrality as a failure.

"Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet," Paj said.

He said he instead will require ISPs to give transparency so the public can choose to purchase a service plan best for the them. 

ISPs could charge more for certain internet services. 

Williams said if net neutrality is repealed, it will give privilege to certain information and cause more difficulty to access information from smaller providers.

The Association of Research Libraries explains a repeal may harm educational institutions such as colleges and universities that rely on high-bandwith. Institutions use the internet to support content creation and learning.

Williams said the library would face similar problems as it provides access to things like digital collections and online learning tools.

"If that is slowed down and roadblocks are put in the way that can affect patrons in Columbia," she said.

She said she worries for small online "mom and pop shops" that may experience difficulty paying high fees. 

"I don’t think that’s fair," she said. I feel like internet access is like a utility and should be open to all."