If the FCC comes to regulate the Internet, newspapers will lose their freedom of the press 8/3/08Posted by Steve Boriss in Net Neutrality.
Since the government does not regulate printing presses in any way, newspapers are free to print whatever they want without pressure from government. On the other hand, since the government does issue and reissue broadcast licenses, broadcast networks must occasionally listen to and be pressured by U.S. Senators seeking to change content that the Senators find offensive — think of the pressure to edit the not-so-Clinton-friendly TV series “Pathway to 911,” the now-auctioned letter to Rush Limbaugh’s partner Clear Channel about language he used allegedly criticizing our troops, and the pressure on Sinclair Broadcasting to avoid airing an unflattering portrait of John Kerry.
Now that newspapers are moving online, what if the FCC comes to regulate the Internet, as might begin to happen should they be given the right to enforce Net Neutrality policies? Would Senators then be able to pressure newspapers to change their content, just as they do in broadcast? Will America have fought a bloody revolution more than 2 centuries ago, in part to earn freedom of the press, only to let it slip away because of issues as complex and seemingly benign as whether Internet Service Providers: 1) can’t send video file transfers at lower priority so they do not clog the Internet, or 2) can charge content providers fees for higher speeds? Those who believe that Internet service providers must treat all packets the same should think twice about undoing the American Revolution.