Argh. Ok, I wasn’t going to do it, but Mike seems insistent on passing this little piece of trash around the blogosphere.
Here’s a lawyer who thinks that the wire, not the people who create the contents that flow through it, have free speech rights.
Even if neutrality mandates made good sense, they should not be imposed if they impinge on constitutional rights. The First Amendment’s language is plain: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” ISPs like Comcast and Verizon possess free speech rights just like newspapers, magazines, movie and CD producers or the man preaching on a soapbox. They are all speakers for First Amendment purposes, regardless of the medium used. And under traditional First Amendment jurisprudence, it is just as much a free speech infringement to compel a speaker to convey messages that the speaker does not wish to convey as it is to prevent a speaker from conveying messages it wishes to convey. Thus, neutrality laws mandating, for example, that an ISP not block access to any lawful Web site would mean that it could not choose to restrict access to material that in its view, say, is “indecent” or “homophobic.”
Um… yeah. That’s exactly what we’re saying. An ISP doesn’t have rights to choose who gets to see what. That’s the basis the internet was founded on. You pay for access and you get to see everything that’s out there – good, bad, and ugly. Should an individual not want to see certain types of information, they can filter themselves, manually or technologically, as that is their right to do so. How does someone who apparently is so knowledgeable about freedom of speech overlook the fact that allowing the ISP to choose who gets to see what is the about the most blatent form of censorship there is?
I can see it now. New right-wing nutjob sponsored “clean” VoIP services that automatically bleep naughty words like “abortion” “condom” or “Darwin.” Cause, ya know, the copper and fiber have freedom of speech rights.