THE INTERNET PROVIDES THE GREATEST FORUM FOR COMMUNICATION and expression that the world has ever seen. At the same time, however, it ultimately is subject to the control of a handful of dominant, private entities that are unregulated under the First Amendment in their duty to facilitate communication and expression. That paradox lies at the center of this book.
More than at any time in our history, a small number of private entities enjoy unfettered control over what speech to facilitate—and what speech to restrict or disfavor—within our most important medium for expression. Although the Internet is generally seen as a forum for free expression, in reality speech on the Internet is subject to censorship and discrimination at a variety of chokepoints. Internet speech conduits—such as broadband service providers—are now responsible for facilitating a vast amount of expression. Unlike telephone companies or the postal service—which have long been legally required not to discriminate against the content they are charged with carrying—these Internet speech conduits are not similarly regulated. While many individuals may be content to entrust to the market their ability to communicate, recent developments suggest that such trust is misplaced and may very well lead to the “end of the Internet as we know it.”
U.S.-based Internet speech conduits have recently invested extensive resources into developing methods to censor expression at the behest of speechrestrictive regimes such as China.1 With such methods in hand, Internet
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Publication information: Book title: Virtual Freedom: Net Neutrality and Free Speech in the Internet Age. Contributors: Dawn C. Nunziato - Author. Publisher: Stanford University Press. Place of publication: Stanford, CA. Publication year: 2009. Page number: xiii.
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