In re: “Net Neutrality Supporters Have First Amendment Upside Down”

http://bit.ly/6Ew12R

I somewhat agree with the assertion that the First Amendment does limit the government’s ability to regulate free speech. However, a completely textual argument would suggest that government can only be limited when it “abridges” (deprive, diminish, reduce in scope – http://m-w.com/dictionary/abridge) rather than expands free speech.  If the net neutrality regulations are promulgated under the FCC authority in order to protect free speech/access to information, then I don’t think that the ISP companies would have much of a chance by challenging the constitutionality of it on 1st amendment grounds. There is precedent for this type of regulation.  Turner Broadcasting v. FCC.  I doubt that a regulation on how much ISP companies charge its customers will fall under strict scrutiny because the law isn’t directly regulating speech per say.

Essentially, it would come down to whether the net neutrality rules actually do have a chilling effect on free speech/access to information.  So, how do you measure the chilling effect other than less users of the internet?  Would net neutrality cause less users?  Also – the United States isn’t the only one using the Internet, so how will anyone be able to show less speech without doing a headcount (on the internet?!).

On the flip side, do we have the right to FAST Internet access or access?  I remember a time when I was suffering through 56k modems, when it took me 1 hour to download a 3MB song (even when it was legal).  Do we even have the right to access the Internet at all?  Not everyone has free internet. We pay for services provided by a company.  If IPS companies wanted to charge me more based on how much bandwidth I used, I wouldn’t have a 1st Amendment complaint against the cable company (since the 1st Amendment only applies against the government).

HOWEVER, I think it’s unfair how I have to pay the same amount of money for my use of the internet (mostly Twitter, Hulu, and various message boards) while my neighbor can download seasons upon seasons of television shows.  Maybe a tiered system would give me more control of how much bandwidth I use and I can end up spending less money in the long run.   BUT, I like having the choice of using more bandwidth if I want to. So, really, it’s all just trade-offs.

Of course, I wouldn’t mind regulations on charging me more money for Internet use regardless, mostly because ISPs/cable companies/phone companies have easements on my property and they probably didn’t have to pay much for it.  [And believe me, I doubt those companies were complaining when those easements were taken under some kind of statute.]