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ACLU Says Net Neutrality Necessary For Free Speech 283

eldavojohn writes "The ACLU has recently identified Network Neutrality a key free speech issue and said in a lengthy PDF report: 'Freedom of expression isn't worth much if the forums where people actually make use of it are not themselves free. And the Internet is without doubt the primary place where Americans exercise their right to free expression. It's a newspaper, an entertainment medium, a reference work, a therapist's office, a soapbox, a debating stand. It is the closest thing ever invented to a true "free market" of ideas.' The report then goes on to argue that ISPs have incentive and capability of interfering with internet traffic. And not only that but the argument that it is only 'theoretical' are bogus given they list ten high profile cases of it actually happening. If the ACLU can successfully argue that Net Neutrality is a First Amendment Issue then it might not matter what businesses (who fall on either side of the issue) want the government to do."
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ACLU Says Net Neutrality Necessary For Free Speech

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  • Re:Nonsense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @10:05AM (#33960526) Journal

    All connections should permit all legal connections...

    Who's in charge of legal connections? By your argument, ISPs should be able to deny you access to organizations that do not comply with the Government's PATRIOT laws. With such a distinction, you cannot have free speech.

  • Re:Nonsense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by twistedsymphony ( 956982 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @10:38AM (#33960922) Homepage
    I think you're understanding the word "forum" too net-speak literal... replace the word "forum" with "platform" or "website" and that seems to be more the intent of what the ACLU is promoting.

    The point isn't that Slashot is a freespeach forum for users, it's that the net is a freespeach forum for sites like Slashdot.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @10:49AM (#33961050) Journal

    Because of course once it has become accepted that access to certain parts of the net should be slower because they don't pay, the next step of not providing access if they don't pay for it, or maybe don't meet the approval process... well that just won't enter anybody's head who ain't ... oops who ain't the sexiest man alive that all women crave to have sex with and men want to buy free beers.

    As for, as long as the backbone remains free somebody else comments...

    Yeah, because printing presses ain't restricted in anyway but it is SO easy to start up a new newspaper. Or a television channel.

    We already lost the radio and the newspapers and the tv to mightly commercial intrests. But sure, this won't happen to the internet. Because the powers that be will just sit back this time and let the public run free.

    Supression of free speech can be done with a bullet through the neck. That is easy but costly. Far easier to have people restrict themselves.

    Compare the US and France. Could the US mount such a massive protest against the government? Hell no. Everyone is to worried about missing a day at work because nobody would pay them and the credit card bills and mortage got to be payed. Make everyone a home and car owner and their loan payments will keep them nice and quiet. Well known tactics. Why do you think conversative right wing governments hate renters? Mobile workforce that isn't tied down to a house. Renters can loose their job and simply move somewhere cheaper. Buyers are locked in.

    No, supression of free speech won't happen with a bang, it will happen with a wimper. Everyone locked in to speedy facebook and then all of sudden the internet has turned into yet another medium controlled by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and those that fund him. How do think the first public run radio stations turned into the current commerical crap? Nobody thought it could happen and then it did.

  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:30PM (#33962342)

    I have mod points that I wanted to use in this thread, but I decided I'd rather comment.

    From a legal perspective, your grandad was right as far as I am concerned. I don't see anything in the constitution that grants the government the authority to enforce non-discrimination laws. The interstate commerce clause is laughable, as most of the discriminatory behavior is related to intrastate commerce. Application of the 14th amendment argument is also limited, as it only applies to cases where certain actions against minorities or women would be illegal of they they were committed against white males (or any other subset of the population).

    That doesn't mean that we shouldn't have these rights, it means that the founding fathers weren't perfect. It means the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should have included a constitutional amendment, not just a law.

    As far as net neutrality goes, the government is not restricting anyone's speech, so it isn't a first amendment issue. Period. That doesn't mean that net neutrality is a bad idea. Furthermore, since the internet is pretty much the definition of interstate commerce, and throttling it would be a restriction of interstate commerce, net neutrality is an example of what the interstate commerce clause was original intended for. So congress does have the authority to regulate in this manner if they so chose, the same way they regulated the telcom industry before it.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor