2015 June

FCC Commissioner Pai’s Rural Internet Plan Is A Winner

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

Universal service, the idea that all Americans should have access to communications services, has been a core principle of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) since its founding. This principle originated with the telephone in the early 20th century, but today’s consumers are abandoning plain old telephone service in droves. The great infrastructure challenge of the 21st century is universal broadband Internet service.

This challenge remains unmet in rural America. It’s been more than five years since the FCC issued a National Broadband Plan to ensure every American has access to broadband capability. Though broadband deployment has progressed rapidly in urban areas, it is not becoming available quickly enough in rural areas, where more than half of the population still lacks access to broadband infrastructure. It is becoming increasingly clear that the FCC’s universal service policies haven’t kept pace with the broadband revolution.

Yesterday, Commissioner Ajit Pai described how the FCC could help bridge the yawning digital divide between urban and rural America without increasing the existing budget for universal service funding. Read More

CBIT Statement: Court denies net neutrality stay, grants expedited review

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Freedom of Speech | No Comments

It’s no surprise that the court denied the motion for stay. The motion didn’t make the strongest and most important argument against the FCC’s totalitarian vision of net neutrality: That a total ban on the editorial discretion of Internet service providers violates the First Amendment’s command that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press. When the FCC’s order takes effect tomorrow, it will smash the wall of separation between Internet speech and the state, leaving nothing to stop government censorship until the case is decided on the merits.

New Net Neutrality Order Is a Nadir for the First Amendment & Internet Freedom

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Freedom of Speech, Net Neutrality Series 2.0 | One Comment

If a court affirms the FCC’s ruling that broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) have no right to exercise editorial discretion over Internet transmissions on their networks, the First Amendment could not stop the government from censoring the transmissions of end users on ISP networks.

The First Amendment is premised on a simple idea: Ensuring mass media communications are free of government control is a “precondition to enlightened self-government and a necessary means to protect it.” Though this principle should be obvious, it has been lost in application to the Internet age. In its recent order adopting net neutrality rules and reclassifying Internet access as a common carrier service subject to telephone regulation (“Net Neutrality Order”), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concluded that Internet transmissions on networks operated by broadband Internet service providers are not entitled to protection from government control. According to the FCC, the transmission of Internet communications is not constitutionally protected speech, because it is not “inherently expressive.” Net Neutrality Order at ¶¶ 547-49. The FCC relied on this conclusion to justify its decision to regulate the Internet as if it were a plain old telephone network that transmits only common carrier communications.

The FCC’s conclusion is an unprecedented nadir for the First Amendment and Internet freedom. In a paper released last week, the Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology describes four constitutional principles that explain how the Net Neutrality Order eviscerates the freedom of the press. These four principles are summarized below. Read More

CBIT White Paper: How Net Neutrality Invites the Feds to Ignore the First Amendment & Censor the Internet

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Freedom of Speech, Net Neutrality Series 2.0 | 5 Comments

Click HERE to download the paper in PDF.

Executive Summary

Is watching Netflix on the broadband Internet more like (A) watching cable television or (B) talking on the telephone? Common sense suggests the answer is “A”, the court that overturned the previous open Internet rules[1] chose “A”,[2] and the First Amendment demands it. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) nevertheless chose “B” in the Second Internet Order:[3] It concluded the Internet is the functional equivalent of the public switched telephone network and is subject to the common carrier regulations in Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

If the FCC had admitted the Internet offers communications capabilities that are functionally equivalent to the printing press, mail carriage, newspaper publishing, over-the-air broadcasting, and cable television combined, it would have been too obvious that classifying broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers is unconstitutional. Like all other means of disseminating mass communications, broadband Internet access is a part of the “press” that the First Amendment protects from common carriage regulation. Read More