Like other Internet service providers, Verizon is fighting to derail the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rules for network neutrality. But Verizon has set itself apart from other ISPs with its legal arguments for why the FCC’s Open Internet Order should be tossed out.
In its legal brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, Verizon lawyers claim the FCC has exceeded its regulatory authority by trying to dictate how ISPs control the flow of information across their networks. More importantly, the company claims the net neutrality rules violate its First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights.
As Verizon sees it, “broadband networks are the modern-day microphone by which their owners [e.g. Verizon] engage in First Amendment speech.” Furthermore, the company should be allowed to act like a newspaper does, selectively choosing what information should be allowed to stay and what should be selected out.
Verizon’s alarming argument has been rejected by Internet users who have read Verizon’s brief. Author Jeff Jarvis noted
that “The First Amendment argument is absurd on its face. Does Verizon really want to be responsible for everything distributed on the net, including libel, theft, and other illegal behavior? I doubt it. Verizon is no publisher.”
Verizon also claims the FCC regulations interfere with its Fifth Amendment protections for private property rights. The government cannot get in the way of Verizon’s networks unless it is willing to compensate the business, attorneys insist.
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