Verizon pushes court to rule that “free speech” equals suppression

Verizon’s stunning challenge to the FCC rule that dictates that the internet should be open, is that its (Verizon’s) “free speech” rights will be violated if it is not allowed to,

“…suppress someone else’s ability to transmit or receive information.

…Here’s the twist: Verizon clearly knows better. Its joint statement with Google about the prospect of open-Internet rules in early 2010 stated: “The minute that anyone, whether from the government or the private sector, starts to control how people access and use the Internet would be the beginning of the end of the ‘net as we know it.”

…While Verizon’s free-speech claim might seem too loony to be taken seriously, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 landmark Citizens United ruling brought corporate rights to a new level. In that case, the high court struck down campaign laws that restricted the ability of corporations, labor unions and other groups to spend money on ads promoting or opposing candidates. In a 5-4 ruling, the majority held that the ban was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

…The FCC suggested its rule would prevent a service provider from blocking voice and video competitors such as Skype or Netflix. Without the open Internet rule, the FCC warned, “the next Google or Facebook might never begin.

Why you should care

Verizon’s challenge of the Federal Communication Commission’s authority to maintain a wide-open Internet should be a matter of great public concern. Here’s what could happen if Internet service providers (ISPs) were not constrained by federal “net neutrality” rules:

Preferential content

An ISP with a large market share (such as Verizon enjoys now) could stifle competition by ensuring superior technological performance for its own products (such as games, movies or other ventures).

Pay to play

An ISP might decide to start charging sites for access to its customers. Before long, the Internet could begin to resemble the cable television business model.


Suppose an ISP had a certain political agenda, or was engaged in a labor dispute. It could censor content, or prevent its customers from, say, creating social networks or e-mailing Congress or other policymakers.

Verizon’s court case for this matter is presently at the appellate level.

See also

Leave a Reply