×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Verizon Claims Net Neutrality Violates Their Free Speech Rights

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the at-the-cost-of-a-thousand-others dept.

Verizon 430

New submitter WickedLilMonkies writes "In a stretch of the meaning of 'free speech' that defies the most liberal interpretation, Verizon defends throttling your data speed." In its continuing case to strike down the FCC net neutrality regulations, Verizon is arguing that Congress has not authorized the FCC to implement such regulations, and therefore the FCC is overstepping its regulatory bounds, but (from the article): "Verizon believes that even if Congress had authorized network neutrality regulations, those regulations would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment. 'Broadband networks are the modern-day microphone by which their owners [e.g. Verizon] engage in First Amendment speech,' Verizon writes." They are also arguing that "... the rules violate the Fifth Amendment's protections for private property rights. Verizon argues that the rules amount to 'government compulsion to turn over [network owners'] private property for use by others without compensation.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

430 comments

You're a company (4, Insightful)

p0p0 (1841106) | about 2 years ago | (#40542379)

You're a company. The fact that any constitutional rights apply to you is because of dirty lawmaking. Kindly screw off. I *hope* you can only piss off the people so much before they realize "Hey, that's pretty dumb."

Re:You're a company (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#40542457)

You're a company. The fact that any constitutional rights apply to you is because of dirty lawmaking. Kindly screw off. I *hope* you can only piss off the people so much before they realize "Hey, that's pretty dumb."

'Cause, you know, corporations are endowed by their creators with inalienable rights.

Re:You're a company (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#40542531)

You're a company. The fact that any constitutional rights apply to you is because of dirty lawmaking. Kindly screw off. I *hope* you can only piss off the people so much before they realize "Hey, that's pretty dumb."

'Cause, you know, corporations are endowed by their creators with inalienable rights.

"Corporations are people, my friend." - Thomas Jefferson

Re:You're a company (4, Informative)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#40542617)

I hope you are joking, as Mitt Romney said that.

Re:You're a company (5, Informative)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 2 years ago | (#40542793)

In a different context though. What he meant is that corporations are made out of people and so corporate taxes are also paid by people.

WaPo transcript of the exchange:

"Romney explained that one way to fulfill promises on entitlement programs is to 'raise taxes on people,' but before he could articulate his position on not raising taxes, someone interrupted.

'Corporations!' a protester shouted, apparently urging Romney to raise taxes on corporations, 'Corporations!'

'Corporations are people, my friend,' Romney said.

Some people in the front of the audience shouted, 'No, theyâ(TM)re not!'

'Of course they are,' Romney said. 'Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes?'

Re:You're a company (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542853)

My body is made of cells. Do cells have the same rights as I do under the constitution ?
With all due respect, fuck off Romney.

Re:You're a company (5, Insightful)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 2 years ago | (#40542647)

Yeah, but when a corporation is charged with a crime, why are they not tried and why does no one go to jail?

When people are charged with a crime, tried, and convicted, do they not go to jail?

Re:You're a company (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#40542655)

""Corporations are people, my friend." - Thomas Jefferson"

Really? Can they vote? Get married? Become elected officials?

Corporations are NOT people. They were granted, by government, the privilege of acting as people in the matter of basic finance, for the sole purpose that projects too large for individuals to fund could be financed.

There was NEVER any intent that corporations would be ACTUAL people. Further, any of these privileges that are bestowed by Government cannot be basic human rights, like free speech, because rights come naturally; they are not given to us by government. Nor does government have legal authority to take them away.

11,000,000 killed since the end of the 2nd W. War (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542673)

"Corporations are people, my friend." - Thomas Jefferson

Actually, Romney said that. [madmagazine.com]

The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. It is, by some measures, the most violent government that has ever existed. It has 6 times the percentage of its citizens in prison as European countries. The U.S. government has invaded or bombed at least 27 countries since the end of the 2nd World War. The U.S. financial system is so corrupt that many people feel it is not safe to invest.

Re:You're a company (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 2 years ago | (#40542681)

I'm sorry, guys, I generally do like you - but you have to leave it to the US to take a perfectly fine idea, choose the worst possible implementation and then declare the whole concept unworkable.

Legal personhood for corporations is perfectly fine. It is a tool that allows signing of contracts in the name of the corporation instead of the name of the CEO. That's basically all it is there for, in a sane system.

A sane system, however, recognizes the difference between legal and natural persons. Only the latter can have citizen's and human rights like free speech. Around here, in ebil socialist Europe, my country's courts wouldn't even take a case that debates something like free speech rights for corporations as such. It's a wholly different legal construct.

Re:You're a company (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40542863)

I fail to see the need to treat corporations as persons, simply to pass around checks or contracts. They can and should be dealt with the same way you deal with a non-incorporated company.

Also I don't consider corporations a "fine idea". Neither did Jefferson. They consolidate too much power in the hands of a few. A corporation has the wealth of a small government and can use that wealth to buy power (through donations to politicians). This is true not just in the U.S. but the EU, Russia, and all around the world. The voice of the 99.9% are drowned out by the top 0.1% of corporations & their boards.

Re:You're a company (5, Funny)

pegasustonans (589396) | about 2 years ago | (#40542769)

You're a company. The fact that any constitutional rights apply to you is because of dirty lawmaking. Kindly screw off. I *hope* you can only piss off the people so much before they realize "Hey, that's pretty dumb."

'Cause, you know, corporations are endowed by their creators with inalienable rights.

"Corporations are people, my friend." - Thomas Jefferson

"That's a big pile of horse shit." -- Abraham Lincoln

Re:You're a company (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#40542645)

'Cause, you know, corporations are endowed by their creators with inalienable rights.

This has nothing to do with being a corporation. They are engaging in commerce, and the government has the authority to regulate commerce of both corporations and individuals. As an individual, you may not like white people, and the Bill of Rights says you have the freedom to not associate with them, but if you run a taco stand, you still have serve them because it is a commercial activity.

Re:You're a company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542503)

A company is a group of people who pool their money to start some sort of enterprise. Any organization made up of people have free speech rights. The "corporations shouldn't have rights" is a load of horseshit that idiots like you perpetuate in one big circle jerk, demanding that those people who comprise corporations support your bitching.

Re:You're a company (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#40542529)

A company is a group of people who pool their money to start some sort of enterprise. Any organization made up of people have free speech rights. The "corporations shouldn't have rights" is a load of horseshit that idiots like you perpetuate in one big circle jerk, demanding that those people who comprise corporations support your bitching.

Re:You're a company (1)

jklappenbach (824031) | about 2 years ago | (#40542603)

Those rights have a cost, and consequences. When corporations can serve time in prison, or be drafted into military service, then I think you might have an argument.

Re:You're a company (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#40542623)

Yup, and if they win, then I will sue Verizon for limiting my free speech rights by throttling my internet speed.

Re:You're a company (2)

Soluzar (1957050) | about 2 years ago | (#40542795)

I suppose you're free to make the attempt. You will however have your case thrown out at the earliest possible stage. The First Amendment to the US Constitution only protects your right to freedom of speech against government interference.

Re:You're a company (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 2 years ago | (#40542719)

Any member of that corporation, as a natural person, has free speech rights. The corporation as such, as a legal person, has none. What the fuck is so hard about that? That's set legal doctrine throughout Europe for something like 150 years.

Re:You're a company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542653)

A corporation is not a "group of people", it is a legal entity that exists to facilitate certain types of business transactions and in no way represents the collective opinions or rights of the individuals who own shares. If Mitt Romney and Barack Obama both own shares in Apple, do you think Apple can somehow represent their collective free speech? It's a ridiculous argument.

Re:You're a company (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40542509)

You're a company. The fact that any constitutional rights apply to you is because of dirty lawmaking. Kindly screw off. I *hope* you can only piss off the people so much before they realize "Hey, that's pretty dumb."

You. Noun. Meaning person. If you're going to take on corporate personhood, it might help if you not refer to them as 'they', 'them', 'you', or other words which confer personhood. The word you are looking for is 'it'.

Re:You're a company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542543)

Please look up the meaning of "noun." I suppose you also never address your pet as "you" either.

Re:You're a company (2)

mapkinase (958129) | about 2 years ago | (#40542593)

>I *hope* you can only piss off the people so much before they realize "Hey, that's pretty dumb."

That's the definition of pipe dream. When you people stop believing in "people"? What level of public manipulation by exponentially increasing power of technology needs to be achieved before you stop this insanity of belief in "democracy", before you say to yourself: "we played this game long enough for China to surpass us in GDP, what's really the risk of getting another moron on our asses via technocracy, while we had so many of them in the past via democracy?"

People with common sense are minority. They should rule. People without common sense, dumb people, idiots, hillbillies, their name is Legion, should not have ANY say. That's all there is to it.

Re:You're a company (4, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 2 years ago | (#40542851)

China is still a shithole in every imaginable way compared to the USA and you want us to be like them? I think that puts you among your "people without common sense, dumb people, idiots, hillbillies". Perhaps you can be their leader?

Re:You're a company (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 2 years ago | (#40542817)

You're a company. The fact that any constitutional rights apply to you is because of dirty lawmaking. Kindly screw off. I *hope* you can only piss off the people so much before they realize "Hey, that's pretty dumb."
Rights? Verizon should check out the results of Korematsu v. US, Ex parte Quirin, and Kelo v New London, before they start bitching about any rights they may or may not enjoy. And if they piss Congress off, they'll just call it a tax.

free speech as a double edge sword (3, Insightful)

galaad2 (847861) | about 2 years ago | (#40542385)

they do have free speech but their speech must not affect others' speech.
this is why neutrality is needed.

Re:free speech as a double edge sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542441)

I don't understand. What speech is being censored, here? They're not being punished for saying something. At most, I suppose you could say that they'd be punished for not saying something. But in that case, no speech is actually being censored...

Re:free speech as a double edge sword (2)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40542643)

By speech they mean monopoly. REcently Verizon changed their data plans and "signaled" as much to the "market" before doing it. This is public collusion between them and AT&T. They were basically winking to AT&T that they could change their data plans as well. This follows the running standard of raising rates instead of improving infrastructure. This is all fine and good until it is seen that this results in higher prices AND less choices for consumers. Not only that, but they feel they are above the law and this stretching of the freedom of speech argument clearly marks that. Recently, they imposed a $30 fee on people for a free phone upgrade! On their website they had, as usual, plastered FREE on the many certain phones available for those who choose to engage a new two year contract. The catch? When you finally try to close the deal you find their is a newly imposed fee of $30. It is called bait-and-switch and it is illegal. The practice continues and the Attorney Generals look the other way.

All of this has taken place in the midst of record increasing profits. I'm all for profit, which has a clear benefit to society, but the system is also supposed to ensure that prices drop and that consumers have more choices. When you see illegal behavior from these companies fire off a concise one-two paragraph letter (no email) to your Attorney General--citing the factual offense and asking for remedy. If several people do this they will start to pursue these unethical, ungrateful assholes. You can also file your own lawsuit asking for a judgement on pleadings. If you cite factual offenses and provide clear evidence they will be put into a tough position that must be answered and remedied without the need for a trial. You can also petition the AJ for help in this matter as well.

Instead of bitching, we need to start using these simple and effective measures to curtail their abuse of society. I do appreciate their excellent services, but they don't get a free pass to squeeze their customers at every turn. Take a little action.

Re:free speech as a double edge sword (3, Interesting)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#40542501)

THey do not have free speech. Its a sham. The land lines they run their business on and the airwaves they use are owned by US. WE THE PEOPLE. They LEASE the right to operate from US. We can tell demand of them anything we want, and it will still be constitutional

Re:free speech as a double edge sword (1)

gregulator (756993) | about 2 years ago | (#40542573)

Your freedom of speech IS NOT eroded if someone else doesn't let you use their equipment to make your proclamations.

If you don't like their Terms of Service, then find another provider's equipment to use.

Re:free speech as a double edge sword (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 2 years ago | (#40542595)

But if they pick only selected phrases of your speech and then publish them, do you still think it is not criminal offense?

Re:free speech as a double edge sword (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 2 years ago | (#40542629)

Or to make my case more clear, let me act as Verizon: So you say that: "..Your...equipment...eroded...the...provider". Freedom, right?

How sweet the savour (3, Interesting)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | about 2 years ago | (#40542401)

You can taste the desperation in their arguments and it is the taste of victory for the man in the street.

It's not your speech (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542413)

It's mine. You're just part of the network. If you make it your speech, you're responsible for it. I don't think you want that.

Re:It's not your speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542443)

This!

It's like the microphone cable complaining about not being able to make annoying words quieter.

Corporations aren't people.my friend (4, Informative)

OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) | about 2 years ago | (#40542417)

Corporations are nothing more than businesses granted a limited liability charter by We The People provided they abide by our rules and regulations -- including the net neutrality rule.

Re:Corporations aren't people.my friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542833)

Corporations are nothing more than businesses granted an UNlimited liability charter by We The People provided they abide by our rules and regulations -- including the net neutrality rule.

FTFY.

I would think that argument would be backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542423)

Because if the internet is a microphone facilitates speech then it follows that the actions you perform would equate to your expression. Therefore, one would think that adding a fee to perform certain actions would run counter to free speech and actually be construed as a form of censorship or at least a violation of the 14th amendment since only those who could afford it would pay. Poll taxes were struck down for equal protection reasons similar to this.

The word were looking for... (5, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#40542425)

...is "disingenuous", for nothing fits the term better than Verizon's twisted argument that a free and open Internet can somehow be an impediment to free speech. If it didn't come from corporate lawyers, it would be unbelievable.

Re:The word were looking for... (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#40542697)

Don't attribute stupidity when it can be adequately explained by malice, if comes from lawyers. Call it Hanlon's Lawsuit.

Use of public resources (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542427)

Verizon needs to understand that they have used wireless spectrum (leased) and public right-of-ways to get their services to their customers. In exchange for this they should be expected to fall under some public oversight via regulation. If they do not agree with this then maybe these public resources should be turned over to someone who will.

Re:Use of public resources (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#40542507)

Not just SOME oversight, we should be storming in and taking over this critical national infrastructure.

Liberterian Values (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | about 2 years ago | (#40542429)

They are basically saying the government cannot put limits on the sale of "microphones" because it is the sellers free speech, instead of what it is, a business transaction.

Next up, con-men, oh, that is what Verizon already is...

You don't have to turn it over... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542433)

You don't have to turn your property over, you can just take it off the market entirely, and go do something else. Open the market up for competitors that want to deliver fair access.

I wish they'd fight this hard for protecting the privacy of their customers.

lack of compensation is the problem! (4, Insightful)

dav1dc (2662425) | about 2 years ago | (#40542445)

The last line is the worst: "Verizon argues that the rules amount to 'government compulsion to turn over [network owners'] private property for use by others without compensation."

In other words - handing over your private information to others would be OKAY if only Verizon got paid for it.

#faceplam :(

Perhaps... (4, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 2 years ago | (#40542461)

Perhaps Verizon shouldn't have buried their 'property' in my lawn.

Re:Perhaps... (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | about 2 years ago | (#40542609)

That's the whole right of way thing. I think the local municipality gave them the rights. Shame they don't negotiate with the property owner instead.

Re:Perhaps... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#40542745)

Yeah pretty much. Depending on where you live, most places have right-of-way 30ft from the centre of the roadway.

Re:Perhaps... (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#40542747)

Instead of having to negotiate rights-of-way with a million property owners (and the risk of not achieving end-to-end connectivity due to one in thd middle, who won't sell), common carriers are allowed to use public rights-of-way. In exchange, they put themselves under regulation for the public good, and give up some rights they might have if they truly owned (or leased) all of their infrastructure. Same thing applies to wireless providers, with the public airwaves.

Verizon - you want to claim you're not a common carrier subject to public regulation? Fine. I'll lease a right-of-way across my property for the sum of my monthly bill +$100. I suspect everyone else might offer something similar.

Re:Perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542849)

You should look up the word "easement" or review your legal land ownership documents. If it's illegally in your yard, dig it up or charge them rent. I suspect you'll find your signature at the bottom of the contract you signed where you agreed / consented for it to be there.

For the last f**king time... (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#40542463)

For the last f**king time... a company has no right to free speech. It's employees may have, but a company has not.
Okay... that was probably not for the last time :(

Re:For the last f**king time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542493)

Companies are owned by people. You're technically right to nitpick that it's ultimately always people who exercise that speech. But whether it's exercised in the name of a company or the name of a political ideology or the name of an individual is irrelevant. An individual's right to free speech is the right to speak out in whatever fashion he/she choses.

Re:For the last f**king time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542513)

Agreed.

Now, when Mitt Romney says "...corporations are people too..." you can just imagine what'll happen if he gets elected as PoTUS.

  http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mitt-romney-says-corporations-are-people/2011/08/11/gIQABwZ38I_story.html

Re:For the last f**king time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542519)

Bzzzt. SCOTUS says that corporations have free speech.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission

Re:For the last f**king time... (1)

Miseph (979059) | about 2 years ago | (#40542693)

One of the most controversial and activist SCOTUS decisions, one that is widely believed to have been a matter of pure political partisanship and that flies in the face of a great deal of precedent is probably not the the best argument you can make.

Re:For the last f**king time... (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 2 years ago | (#40542691)

Uh, you are wrong. According to law, as unintuitive and egregious as it may sound, they (corporations) are people under the law. Real people as in those with unalienable rights.

Re:For the last f**king time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542809)

No, they are not real people, and they do not have inalienable rights.

That's why we can take their charters away.

Re:For the last f**king time... (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40542741)

Why not? I know that you aren't saying that corporations don't have free speech, because they do as ruled by the supreme court.

You are arguing that corporations SHOULDN'T have free speech. Most of the time, when people make that argument, it is mainly because they don't like what the corporation is saying. This is a stupid argument.

Other times, somewhat more sanely, people think corporations shouldn't have speech because they are large and can speak disproportionately loudly. That's slightly better, but we don't limit speech merely because of a better chance of being heard. That's not how free speech works.

Another argument is that corporations are not people, thus shouldn't have free speech. This shows a lack of understanding of corporations. If people want to get together and make a movie criticizing some politician, they should be allowed to. This is not even controversial. A corporation is nothing but a convenient way to get together and be organized. If we abolished corporations, people would achieve the same goals (probably using contract law), except we would pay more as a society to accountants and lawyers for keeping track of all the paperwork. What a waste.

So what good argument is there for limiting free speech of corporations? (Note: this case is not one, because Verizon is speaking the same way a microphone speaks.....that is, they aren't speaking, it has nothing to do with speech).

Let me get this straight... (2)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 2 years ago | (#40542465)

So, Verizon—you're claiming ownership of all the data, er, 'speech' that travels over your network? You do realize that also makes you *liable* for all of it, right? Way to shoulder responsibility there, big guy.

Re:Let me get this straight... (3, Insightful)

cob666 (656740) | about 2 years ago | (#40542565)

If Verizon doesn't adhere to neutrality then simply revoke their common carrier status. I'm sure the FCC has the authority to do that and it will wake Verizon up REALLY fast when they ARE being held liable and accountable for everything that goes through their network.

Re:Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542743)

But that's the problem, ISPs AREN'T common carriers. Change that and we'ere a long way to solving the problem without strange new legislation.

Re:Let me get this straight... (2)

Miseph (979059) | about 2 years ago | (#40542815)

Are you kidding? They would LOVE that. There's a reason cable companies haven't been made Common Carriers, and instead fought for the DMCA: being a Common Carrier comes with responsibilities and limits on power. Verizon would absolutely cream themselves if they were suddenly permitted to block any communication they felt was "dangerous" or "controversial" or "against company policy".

Now, what we COULD do is instruct the FCC to cease renewing their radio spectrum leases until they are in compliance with the "recommended" net neutrality rules (they can say whatever they want, but they can't use publicly owned electromagnetic spectrum to broadcast it). We could also tie compliance into the continued granting of public rights of way, easements, and other benefits that have been granted to them expressly to serve the public interest under the reasoning that if they do not wish to serve those interests, they are not entitled to those benefits.

Personally, I feel that the real problem is the fact that we allow telco monopolies at all. If Verizon were truly required to compete with Comcast, Charter, Time Warner, etc. for retail customers, then we would actually see them all improve. Capitalism works wonderfully when it is able to properly function.

Free Speech (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542471)

At first I had a hard time swallowing the bit about Free Speech. I was going to point out that to employ their own metaphor, the First Amendment seems designed to protect the user of the microphone, not the microphone manufacturer. However, as I was explaining my position it seemed to me that an attack on microphone manufacturers could be used as a way to limit free speech, a sort of "loophole." Instead of going after the speakers, go after their means. Thus the spirit of the first amendment ought to protect both microphone manufacturers AND people who use microphones to express themselves.

I do agree with their fifth amendment case whole-heartedly however. Their lines, routers and servers are their own property. I think people who advocate government controlled Internet would be better served advocating for the nationalization of Internet infrastructure and services; government-run ISPs. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the argument that the Internet "belongs to society" and is a "resource" and thus should not be "controlled by greedy corporations" ?

Part of the problem we have is that the infrastructure requires a lot of government involvement to be put in place to begin with. So government is already involved to a degree that allows them to pick favourites and penalizes people who don't play ball. The result is a lot of big players controlling the infrastructure without much competition. I would rather see government out of the Internet all together and lots of ISPs competing on their merits, without recourse to government favours and lobbying. Let the ones who want to throttle and place ads on web-sites die at the hands of the competitors who realize it makes better business sense to appeal to what their users want.

They are more like the electricity company now... (2, Insightful)

rwade (131726) | about 2 years ago | (#40542591)

I do agree with their fifth amendment case whole-heartedly however. Their lines, routers and servers are their own property. I think people who advocate government controlled Internet would be better served advocating for the nationalization of Internet infrastructure and services; government-run ISPs. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the argument that the Internet "belongs to society" and is a "resource" and thus should not be "controlled by greedy corporations" ?

Internet access is no longer a luxury item -- something for discretionary spending. It is vital to operating a business and participating in the workforce. It is invaluable for education. It makes keeping in touch with far-flung family in friends easy. I would posit that internet access is a public utility like electricity. Verizon using business practices prohibited by so-called net-neutrality rules are akin to an electric company providing preferential electricity delivery (luckily, not really a thing in this country) for the users of devices made by companies that pay it a license fee on each refrigerator it sells.

That is clearly a ridiculous idea. So is providing a faster connection non-transparently to certain online content providers at the expense of speedy connections to the servers the rate-payers actually want to use...

Re:They are more like the electricity company now. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542811)

"Verizon using business practices prohibited by so-called net-neutrality rules are akin to an electric company providing preferential electricity delivery (luckily, not really a thing in this country) for the users of devices made by companies that pay it a license fee on each refrigerator it sells.

That is clearly a ridiculous idea."

It might be a ridiculous idea but I don't see the problem with leaving companies free to do that if they want to.

Look, the reason people feel like they're "at the whim" of "greedy corporations" is precisely because those companies and corporations get to use the strong arm of government to get special favours and privileges at the expense of everyone else. I submit that people asking for more "government oversight" of any industry are advocating for their own idea of a worst-case-scenario. Zero alternatives, zero choice, zero freedom.

I understand the root cause of the internal paradox. It's the "profit motive" that people are adverse to. And they don't see government as having a profit motive. Yet most can probably name more politicians who have screwed over their constituents for a buck than CEOs, and in every single case of a CEO they've either broken the law (and by doing so have initiated violence against others one way or another) or have been very much in bed with government.

I genuinely believe that freedom demands a strict separation of economy and state for the exact same reasons as a separation of church and state: government dictating what you can think and/or believe in is no different government dictating with whom you can associate and trade with under what conditions. So as long as their is freedom of association then any and all regulation and control of the economy is unconstitutional, and if an interpretation of the commerce clause does mean the ability to apply modern-day regulations then it's a case of the constitution contradicting itself.

The constitution exists to protect individuals. And anyone who asks for anything in the name of "society" or the "greater good" needs to keep in mind that society is a collection of individuals. Anything done "for society" that harms one single individual is contradicting it's own stated goals.

No Right to Transmit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542483)

The problem I see with this argument is that there is no constitutional right to transmit in the RF spectrum. That's why a license (a permission to do something otherwise forbidden) is required. The FCC could simply say that any company that is granted a license to use any chunk of spectrum has agreed, as part of the license terms, to abide by FCC regulations.

So does Verizon have the right to prevent others from using their towers and infrastructure? Sure they do, they can just turn their transmitters off.
-

Not about speech (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40542487)

Verizon isn't for or against free speech. It is, however, sitting on an antiquidated nationwide infrastructure of oversubscribed, overutilized, and underdeveloped cell phone towers and backhauls that it has steadfastly refused to upgrade because it would impact quarterly profits. Now that other cell service providers (AT&T, Sprint, etc.) have been upgrading their networks for about two years, Verizon's data service is looking really stale and with new devices continuing to roll off the production line, and nobody with a hot new phone wanting to get exclusive with Verizon, their subscribers are starting to bail as their contracts expire.

So, like all american businesses do, they've decided to try their luck with the legal system, and hopes they'll give them some options to hide the stinking fetid data service behind aggressive QoS control, painfully limiting bandwidth caps, and Terms of Service that are printed in negative point fonts so as to not alert the customer that they're basically signing up for a two year contract with a guaranteed service level of 'zero'.

I wish people would stop thinking service providers give a damn about free speech... it's always been about the benjamins. It's like people who insist RIAA and the MPAA are behind bandwidth caps instead of aging infrastructure and short-term thinking. Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.

Re:Not about speech (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542695)

You compare Verizon's network to AT&T or sprint? Seriously? Verizon's network is top notch and way ahead of AT&T. Sprint isn't even in the same class.

Do your homework before you spill such lies.

Megaphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542491)

Saying that Verizon (or any telecom company) has the right to throttle as a method of free speech is stretching it. It's like saying that a Megaphone HAS the right to free speech. In both situations the only commonality is each is a tool, to broadcast a message.

That said, if someone is abusing the network, is it not akin to someone abusing a megaphone or car stereo at ungodly hours?
Then the question is, what is "abusing the network" and who should be the police of that...

Analogy fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542511)

When I pay for an internet connection, I pay for the privilege of using your hypothetical microphone. This is also known as renting. You may own the microphone, but for the duration I've paid you to use it, you can't tell me what to say over it.

Re:Analogy fail (1)

gregulator (756993) | about 2 years ago | (#40542607)

So, if I rent a room in your basement I can do WHATEVER I want while I am down there?

Of course not. If you don't like Verizon (or any other companies) Terms of Service, then find a new provider. It is as simple as that.

The .gov has very little Constitutional proscribed power to regulate contract law between two individuals.

Microphones have rights??? (1)

sribe (304414) | about 2 years ago | (#40542555)

Broadband networks are the modern-day microphone by which their owners [e.g. Verizon] engage in First Amendment speech...

Seriously, to get from that analogy, to arguing that net neutrality violates their free speech rights... Well, OK, the analogy would not actually be that microphones themselves have 1st Amendment rights--it would be that the manufacturers of microphones have 1st amendment rights to monitor what buyers of their microphones are saying through them, and shut down the microphones that are being used for things they do not like. (And then defending that by arguing that they themselves also sometimes use their own microphones...)

Wow. Fucktards.

Corporations rule the country (0)

Orcris (2652275) | about 2 years ago | (#40542563)

Unfortunately here in the US, corporations have more rights than people. I wondor how long it will be until they actually admit that businesses rule the country.

Re:Corporations rule the country (3, Interesting)

khipu (2511498) | about 2 years ago | (#40542829)

US corporations should have neither more nor less rights than people; corporations simply should have the same rights as the people constituting them.

That's why Miramax could trash Bush in Fahrenheit 9/11, and why Citizens United could trash Hillary in Hillary. But, apparently, attacks by corporations on Republicans are OK while attacks by corporations on Democrats are supposedly the end of civilization.

Verizon owns the cables... (1)

TonyXL (33244) | about 2 years ago | (#40542569)

...so they should be able to do whatever they want with them. Allow traffic, throttle traffic, it's their property.

If you own a house, you can invite or exclude guests as you see fit.

Re:Verizon owns the cables... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542715)

Phone, cable, and fiber infrastructure is heavily subsidized and paid for by grants by the government at all levels. We paid for those cables, at least in part. It seems to me we are owed unrestricted access for our forced participation in its funding. But that just isn't how the world works.

Re:Verizon owns the cables... (1)

khipu (2511498) | about 2 years ago | (#40542847)

Verizon has carrier status, which means that they are exempted from many of the laws that you or I are subject to. Furthermore, both cables and airways involve public property. Both of these mean that Verizon has to comply with certain regulations. If they don't like it, they can give up carrier status and give up access to public property, and then they can do whatever they want.

Oh please!!!! (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | about 2 years ago | (#40542583)

Fuck you verizon. Thank god I live in an area where there is some competition and I can choose what ISP I want but I feel really bad for people that don't have a choice. I dumped them a long time ago because they wouldn't fix our phone service for months and then they expected everyone to buy FIOS.

Re:Oh please!!!! (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#40542823)

I actually like having Verizon FIOS around. Yes they are dirtbags and I wouldn't be a customer of theirs unless I was desperate, but having two carriers available is WAY WAY better than having just one. I've been able to negotiate better pricing from my cable provider as a result, and service upgrades are a pretty regular event. My internet access is now 60Mbps/8Mbps partly due to pressure from FIOS I am sure.

I wonder... (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 2 years ago | (#40542587)

Okey, they hold the microphone and they are the owner of whatever they recorded. So i wonder, could i sue them for libel, misrepresentation and in fact for not recording everything that i say, and even worst, for picking only selected phrases of my speech and thus causing me bodily harm (don't ROFL, i already did)???
Just my 2 cents.

Exactly the opposite (5, Insightful)

reg (5428) | about 2 years ago | (#40542597)

Yes, the internet is a modern day microphone. But the network is not the microphone, it is the wire. The microphone is the content. Their argument supports exactly the opposite conclusion: Net netrality is required to protect the free speech rights of the people using the network.

-Jeremy

Not a telephone? (1)

MBCook (132727) | about 2 years ago | (#40542627)

Isn't it interesting that a phone company doesn't see the telephone line as the closest equivalent. Then they would be arguing their common carrier status (which they don't want).

Of course a newspaper controls all content published, where as a telephone company has no controll.

Careful, someone's worldview is showing.

When does a monopoly forfeit private property? (3, Insightful)

infosinger (769408) | about 2 years ago | (#40542663)

If the company developed its network in an open and free marketplace it has a right to its property. A company is a person or group of people that risk their capital to create that network. However, most telecom networks were not developed in a truly free marketplace. Various government regulations, subsidies and monopolies allowed them to effectively dominate and/or monopolize access to the "free speech". If antitrust regulations had applied to telecom providers everyone would have more than one choice for accessing the network. Many of us have only one choice and this is NOT a free marketplace.

So, the question is: If you are granted a monopoly do you forfeit certain rights to your private property?

Re:When does a monopoly forfeit private property? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#40542761)

> So, the question is: If you are granted a monopoly do you forfeit certain rights to your private property?

The FCC certainly seems to think so, after all it regulates speech over broadcast radio and TV.

sure whatever (1)

spongman (182339) | about 2 years ago | (#40542679)

sure, you can have your broadband "rights", how about 'we the people' permanently revoke the right to broadcast microwave radiation through our airwaves?

I largely agree (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#40542701)

I'm a big fan of net neutrality but the way to go about it is through competition not through government fiat.

If people that buy internet access always have access to several different options then any ISP that behaves badly will lose customers.

Right now we have cable and phone line monopolies. This is why we have a problem. Allow any company to run cable or phone lines so long as they pay a pole fee which is set by the local city or county.

That will mean more cable is run everywhere and competition will increase. Large cities will see the biggest rise. Small towns either might not see anything or they might start their own local ISPs.

In any case, that is how you solve this problem. Not with an edict from washington.

carrier, not corporation (1)

khipu (2511498) | about 2 years ago | (#40542707)

The reason SCOTUS upheld free speech rights for corporations is that they are associations of people, and they inherit the free speech rights of their owners. I think that is sensible.

However, Verizon is a carrier; the content it carries is obviously not its own speech, nor does it have any business looking at it or modifying it. Hence, the first amendment simply has no bearing on them as a carrier.

Now UPS can say they delayed my delivery (1)

Zondar (32904) | about 2 years ago | (#40542711)

because of Free Speech too, rightt?

Unbelievable.

There is no Free Speech implication in delivering a Service.

First Amendment vs Common Carrier (5, Insightful)

srealm (157581) | about 2 years ago | (#40542721)

Every person has the right to free speech. But they can then be held accountable for that speech. Thus libel, slander, etc.

So congress introduced Common Carrier status, in which telecommunications companies could then be NOT held responsible for data that simply passes through their network.

Now let me get this straight, Verizon is trying to claim anything passing through their network is their free speech? This raises two problems for them.

First, if it is all their speech, then they can thus be held accountable for everything going through their network, as common carrier only applies to OTHERS speech going through them as a conduit. Meaning they can be held responsible for every libelous, slanderous, copyright-violating, child porn-downloading piece of data going through their network.

Second, this becomes straight out copyright violation. If I post something online, it is still copyright by me. Now Verizon is trying to claim it is THEIR free speech, not MINE. Essentially violating my original copyright by asserting their ownership of it because it happened to go through their network. It would be the equivalent of Barnes and Noble asserting copyright of any book on their shelves because it went through their store (by saying it is THEIR creation, not the original author's).

Both these arguments pretty much break down Verizon's free speech argument, without even delving into the 'corporations are people' argument. They would NEVER want either of these to be true, as it would open them up to massive amounts of civil and criminal charges. But if they are claiming that everything on their network is THEIR free speech, then one or both must be true, and they must then lose common carrier status.

And incidentally, they can't claim the whole private property rights either, because THEY are the ones letting people use the network, and THEY are connecting to peers specifically to allow the provider's content (youtube, microsoft.com, whatever) to get to the people who are paying them to use their network. You can't complain about people walking across your private property if you are charging them specifically TO walk across your private property. If they want to claim private property, they should then simply be not allowing people to access their network, or peering with other ISPs to allow traffic to flow through their network. Of course, that then means they have no customers and no business, but it would protect their 'private property.'

Dear Verizon, (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40542737)

Your monopoly over all local telephone markets is hereby revoked, and they shall be open to competition from other companies desiring to provide service. Bet you wish you'd obeyed the net neutrality and common carrier rules.

Signed,
the Congress.

If they're going to discriminate their traffic (3, Insightful)

rollingcalf (605357) | about 2 years ago | (#40542777)

... based the content or who is the sender, they should also be held criminally responsible for illegal content that travels over their wires, just as a newspaper would be liable if they published child pr0n.

Either you're a dumb data carrier who isn't responsible for the data being carried, or you're an active participant liable for what you transmit. Can't have it both ways, fools.

Pfft, microphone? (2)

IDarkISwordI (811835) | about 2 years ago | (#40542779)

Rather than the microphone, Verizon is more appropriately positioned as the mixerboard that everyone plugs their microphone into. And they want to play mixerboard operator and have a say on how loud your microphone by playing judge in how important your message is.

Microphone? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542789)

Verizon really thinks that, being a microphone, they should be able to reduce the volume of people trying to speak through it? That's pretty much the definition of censorship, not free speech.

Y'know, I didn't really understand the net neutrality debate and how it related to constitutional rights before. I always thought it was just an issue of carriers wanting to get paid for the bandwidth used on the networks that they paid to install. But now, I thank you Verizon. I now understand the reason why net neutrality is necessary to free speech.

You truly are a microphone, Verizon. You are the tool that lets people speak to a crowd. But you should not have control over your own volume button. Whether they're too loud or too quiet or no one wants to listen, whether they want to talk all night or they're just tired of talking so much and want to stop, those are for the person using the microphone and their audience to decide. Not you.

Great! (2, Interesting)

lennier1 (264730) | about 2 years ago | (#40542819)

If they want to be treated as people, make the CEOs personally liable for every piece of child porn and other filth that's delivered by their network and throw them in jail.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...