Virtual Freedom: Net Neutrality and Free Speech in the Internet Age

By Dawn C. Nunziato | Go to book overview

Conclusion

THIS BOOK HAS EXAMINED THE CONSEQUENCES THAT FLOW from the fact that expression on the Internet is ultimately controlled by a handful of powerful private entities. The pipelines and forums for Internet speech are now owned by a handful of private corporations, and those owners are no longer regulated in their ability to facilitate or thwart the transmission of such expression on the Internet. I have explored how free speech doctrine and policy have evolved to the point where the companies who own the pipelines and forums for Internet expression now have the power to decide which expression is and which expression is not communicated via their pipelines and forums and how they exercise that power in ways that threaten free speech values. As a result of such privatization and concentration of power, and of actions taken by the FCC and the courts to immunize these Internet actors from regulation, we may indeed be “witnessing the beginning of the end of the Internet as we know it.”1

When the government privatized the Internet's infrastructure, the conduits that were responsible for facilitating the transmission of expression— providers of narrowband Internet access—were still regulated as common carriers and were obligated not to discriminate against content or applications. Then, in 2002, the FCC—influenced by a negative conception of the First Amendment—began to remove nondiscrimination obligations from broadband providers. Abandoning this nation's long history of regulating telecommunications providers (such as mail, telegraph, and telephone providers) to charge them with obligations not to discriminate against content, the FCC chose instead to entrust the protection of Internet users' free speech

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Virtual Freedom: Net Neutrality and Free Speech in the Internet Age
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • 1: Speech and Censorship on the Internet 1
  • 2: The First Amendment's Free Speech Guarantee 24
  • 3: Embracing the Affirmative First Amendment 41
  • 4: A Place to Speak Your Mind1 70
  • 5: When Private Becomes Public 88
  • 6: Speech Conduits and Carriers 115
  • 7: Protecting Free Speech in the Internet Age 134
  • Conclusion 152
  • Reference Matter 157
  • Notes 159
  • Index 191
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