Amy Gehrt: Is Internet Censorship Coming To America?

Amy Gehrt | Fall River/Wicked Local | August 8, 2014

The idea of Internet censorship often brings to mind countries such as China or Cuba. However, a key Federal Communications Commission ruling could allow telecom companies to essentially censor what their customers can see ... effectively ending the free and open Internet system on which we rely.  

“New technologies now allow telecom companies to scrutinize every piece of information we send or receive online — websites, email, videos, Internet phone calls, or data generated by games or social networks,” the American Civil Liberties Union explains on its website. “And they can program the computers that route that information to interfere with the data flow by slowing down or blocking traffic and communicators that they don’t like (and speeding up traffic they do like or that pays them extra for the privilege).”  Why would the FCC even contemplate allowing such a thing? In January, a Washington appeals court handed a big victory to Verizon, which had sued over FCC rules requiring providers to handle all Internet traffic equally.

In its attempts to justify why it should be allowed to create a so-called fast lane for content providers who pay a premium, Verizon tried to hide behind the shield of the First Amendment, claiming the right to free speech gave it the right to “edit” the Internet as it saw fit.  In its 2012 court filing, Verizon also sought to compare itself to a newspaper editor, claiming “broadband providers possess ‘editorial discretion.’”  Acting as an Internet gatekeeper is not at all comparable to being a newspaper editor — something Verizon officials would actually know if they had gone to journalism school...