CENSORSHIP: Drudge, Fox News face censorship over net neutrality rules
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Under new neutrality rules, voted upon by the Federal Communications Commission in February, broadband providers do not have a right to free speech. Opponents say this could lead to government regulators, leading to the censorship of such Web sites such as the Drudge Report and Fox News.
Going into effect in June, the new ruling requires that broadband providers - such as Verizon or Comcast - offer access to all legal online content.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With these concerns in the utmost, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on December 4 will hear oral arguments against the Federal Communications Commission's decision.
In its February vote, "Broadband providers are conduits, not speakers . the rules we adopt today are tailored to the important government interest in maintaining an open Internet as a platform for expression." The majority held in its 3-2 vote.
Going into effect in June, the new ruling "requires that broadband providers - such as Verizon or Comcast - offer access to all legal online content," according to the Washington Examiner.
The ruling did not place a similar requirement on "edge providers," such as Netflix and Google. The FCC defines edge providers as "any individual or entity that provides any content, application, or service over the Internet, and any individual or entity that provides a device used for accessing any content, application, or service over the Internet."
Former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth and the Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology argue that this violates the First Amendment right of Internet providers.
"If rules such as these are not reviewed under the most rigorous scrutiny possible, government favoritism and censorship masquerading as 'neutrality' will soon cascade to other forms of mass communication," the center argues.
Furchtgott-Roth maintains that the "differentiation between content providers and broadband providers is an unconstitutional division," according to the Washington Examiner.
"In addition to compelling speech, the order impermissibly singles out broadband providers without imposing similar requirements on the speech of other Internet entities who also act as gatekeepers," his brief states.
Many fear that net neutrality will set a dangerous precedent.
"If the court upholds the FCC's rules, the agency's authority over the Internet would extend from one end to the other," Fred Campbell, president of the Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology, told reporters. "Because the same theories the FCC relied on to impose its new regulations on Internet service providers are also applicable to companies like Apple and Netflix, the FCC could extend its regulatory reach much further in the future."
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