Tag Archives: net neutrality

Do You Speak through the Internet, or Does the Internet Speak for You?

Almost everyone has heard of net neutrality, but few truly understand the breadth of the issue. Simply, net neutrality prevents internet service providers (ISPs) from limiting access to certain websites or promoting their own content or sponsored content. In her article Court Backs Rules Treating Internet As Utility, Not LuxuryCecilia Kang explains that in June of 2016, the United States Court of Appeals ruled that the internet is a utility, which allowed the government to enact net neutrality.

Proponents of net neutrality believe that it protects the consumer by ensuring that he or she has access to all content on the internet. The court’s ruling of the internet as a utility makes the internet a tool for people to express their ideas not for the internet to project its own ideas. In this way, net neutrality protects the consumers’  First Amendment rights.

However, others argue that net neutrality violates the Internet Service Providers’ right to free speech. According to the ISPs, internet providers should be able to regulate speeds of websites in order to express their ideas. A group of broadband companies, including the small ISP Alamo, filed a lawsuit against the FCC to challenge net neutrality. The article How Net Neutrality Violates the First Amendment by Jon Brodkin explains the companies’ claims, “with prioritization, broadband providers convey a message by ‘favoring’ certain speech – that prioritized content is superior – because it is delivered faster”.

Some claim that the FCC does not have the power to restrict ISPs’ speech. However, one exception to the First Amendment is prior restraint, which states that only the US government has the right to prevent material from being published. Therefore, one can argue that it is unlawful for ISPs to block or to slow websites as that is a form of censorship, which is not protected under the First Amendment.

The debate surrounding net neutrality boils down to one essential issue: whose rights are more valid – the ISP’s or the consumers’?

Works Cited
Brodkin, Jon. “How Net Neutrality Violates the First Amendment (according to One ISP).” Ars Technica. WIRED Media Group, 06 Oct. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
Furchtgott-Roth, Harold. “Net Neutrality Violates First Amendment.” Hudson Institute. Hudson Institute, 23 Nov. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
Kang, Cecilia. “Court Backs Rules Treating Internet As Utility, Not Luxury.” New York Times 15 June 2016: n. pag. Print.
Manne, Geoffrey A., and R. Ben Sperry. “How to Break the Internet.” Reason May 2015: 20-28. SIRS Issues Reasearcher. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

The Secret Battle of the Internet

Essential question- Is net neutrality affecting the 1st amendment rights of internet service provider and us the public?

Have you ever wondered when you type in “the crisis with Russia” why you get stories for Donald Trump and against his political actions? You can see is that because of net neutrality. Net neutrality can be a very confusing topic. In 2012, an attempt to pass the first version of net neutrality was successfully blocked by Verizon Internet. Verizon claimed that it was their first amendment right, their freedom of speech, to post whatever they wanted to. Net neutrality is a law that was passed on February 26th, 2015 with a 3-2 vote in favor of it. Net neutrality, as defined online, “is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites”; so essentially all Internet service providers are bound by law to allow you access to any and all information. The Federal Communications Commission, also known as the FCC, was the biggest shove behind the law.  The law is not very old, however there is already a great amount of controversy surrounding it. Barack Obama was the president when the law was passed.  With Obama now being out of office and Donald Trump being the current president, the views on the law have changed. President Trump, a previously known “big business man”, wants the law to be repealed. He pushes against this law so that big businesses can “run” the Internet, control what is posted, and consequently control what people see. Companies like Google and Netflix, on the other hand, are in favor of net neutrality because they believe everyone has the right to information and it should not be tampered with.   

Personally, I find this topic very difficult to wrap my head around. I feel that without net neutrality our first amendment rights, along with internet providers’, would be greatly affected. If we didn’t have net neutrality, we would not be able to use our own voice on the Internet. The Internet providers would be controlling our freedom. Is that really freedom? Large companies, such as Verizon, could accept great amounts of money from other businesses to manipulate what we the people are able to see. For example, let’s say you are searching for women’s dresses and all of the companies that come up are contributors with strong conservative bias and no liberal opinions to even it out. This is how the elimination of net neutrality would affect the people. Only the voice of certain, hand-picked Internet providers would be heard, and that is what we would see. Here’s a scenario: If you were a journalist or blog writer and net neutrality was repealed, you could find yourself having a harder time getting your opinion voiced, because bigger companies would be out-paying you, essentially taking away your rights to free speech. Net neutrality has a great effect on allowing citizens to see every piece of information that is available to get every side of every story.