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[ NNSquad ] Re: Sen. Franken to the Netroots: Only You Can Stop the Corporate Takeover of Free Speech

Network neutrality advocates insist their proposed regulations don't affect "The Internet," but only the broadband networks which, in their view, provide access to "The Internet." If we take them at their word, then it follows that indeed net neutrality regulations only cover private commercial arrangements between consumers of broadband services and providers of broadband services. The currently hot item in the debate, according to Free Press, is whether broadband providers may offer premium Quality of Service delivery services for sale on non-discriminatory terms. The argument against this is on the Cnet site today, http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-20011565-38.html.

All communications infrastructure has a quasi-public nature, whether it's IP, broadcast TV, or radio, and for that reason it's all regulated. That doesn't bring the First Amendment into the picture, however; it involves the Communications Act, the Commerce Clause, and anti-trust law. The use of the First Amendment doesn't advance the debate.


On 7/26/2010 3:05 PM, Edward Almasy wrote:
On Jul 26, 2010, at 3:33pm, Richard Bennett wrote:
Franken's remarks stand the First Amendment on its head. The First Amendment protects the citizens from violations of our speech rights by the government, while net neutrality laws are attempts to have the government limit the services and business models of a group of companies.
This is only true if network connectivity is purely a matter of private commerce.  If (as I and many others believe) the Internet has become a de facto part of our public infrastructure, then we have to consider the services and business models controlling that infrastructure in a different light, on par with those operated by the government.

Franken's speech is just one more facet of the push to remold the old legal model to allow it to function as intended within the new 21st century reality.


   Edward Almasy                                     ealmasy@scout.wisc.edu
   Co-Director                                         1210 W Dayton Street
   Internet Scout                                          Madison WI 53706
   Computer Sciences Department                        608-262-6606 (voice)
   University of Wisconsin - Madison                     608-265-9296 (fax)

Richard Bennett
Senior Research Fellow
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Washington, DC