Neutralizing Access to Justice: Criminal Defendants' Access to Justice in a Net Neutrality Information World

By Chase, Ashley Krenelka | Missouri Law Review, Spring 2019 | Go to article overview

Neutralizing Access to Justice: Criminal Defendants' Access to Justice in a Net Neutrality Information World


Chase, Ashley Krenelka, Missouri Law Review


TABLE OF CONTENTS  ABSTRACT                                                           323 INTRODUCTION                                                       325 I.    NET NEUTRALITY                                               329       A. Background                                                399       B. The Court Battle: Verizon v. FCC                          332       C. The FCC Takes a Stand: New Open Internet Protections      335       D. Raising the Red Flag: ISPs Revolt Against the       "New " Open Internet                                         337       E. Today's FCC and the Restoring Internet Freedom Order      338       F. The Reality of Internet "Deregulation"                    340       G. The Future of the Internet in the United States           342 II.   ACCESS TO JUSTICE AND LIBRARY HIERARCHIES                    344       A. A History of Access Issues: How Bounds and Casey       Impacted the       Right to Information for Prisoners                           345       1. Bounds v. Smith                                           346       2. Lewis v. Casey                                            346       B. Today's Criminal Defendants' Access to Legal Information  348       1. Meaningful Access to Information and the Law Library       Hierarchy                                                    350       a. Academic Law Libraries                                    352       b. Government Law Libraries                                  355       c. Appointed Counsel, Law Firms, and Law Firm Libraries      356       d. Public Libraries                                          357       e. Prison Libraries                                          358 III.  IMPACT OF NET NEUTRALITY ON ACCESS TO JUSTICE                361       A. Libraries' Ability to Afford Access to Materials       at Useful Speeds                                             361       B. Effect on the Practicing Bar                              363       1. Public Defenders                                          363       2. Private Counsel                                           364       C. Costs to Society                                          366 CONCLUSION                                                         367 

INTRODUCTION

The regulation of the Internet--in particular, net neutrality (1)--and access to justice for criminal defendants are increasingly intertwined. (2) Where ten years ago those two phrases would not have been used in the same sentence, it has become nearly impossible to talk about access to justice today without considering net neutrality. Net neutrality is, simply put, the idea that no information on the Internet is more or less important than any other information on the Internet and that users should be able to access all information the same way and at the same speeds. (3) The debate surrounding net neutrality "arose in response to fears that Internet service providers would begin to restrict and/or tier access, which was perceived as a threat both to the free and open Internet and to equal access to information." (4) The current net neutrality debate remains largely centralized around two issues: monopolization and tiering (or Internet "fast lanes"). These issues are typically discussed in terms of large-scale, commercial websites, such as Netflix, Google, and Amazon, and not in terms of justice.

Because of years of heated discussions about net neutrality in the public sector, the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") has been bombarded with comments on these issues. (5) Not since Janet Jackson's nipple appeared at the Super Bowl has the FCC received so many comments on an issue that relates to the public. (6) In Verizon v. FCC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the FCC's regulatory power over common carriers does not apply to Internet service providers ("ISPs"). (7) This opinion effectively handed control of the Internet over to major nationwide ISPs, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, thereby eviscerating the commitment to a free and open Internet once claimed by the FCC. …

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