Last week, Senator Al Franken said Internet neutrality is “the First Amendment issue of our time.”
Franken’s statement comes as Internet service providers—including giants like AT&T, Time Warner and Verizon—have argued for what amounts to the “cable-ization” of the Net in the FCC Internet neutrality proceeding.
Cable-izing the Internet would give ISPs editorial discretion over the content carried on their network, much like cable TV operators have. New, innovative sites could be forced to pony up cash or lobby ISPs in order to have their content carried, and users could see their access to sites blocked if their ISPs don’t carry them.
The result: an online environment in which First Amendment rights are controlled by the ISPs, free to deliver only content they approve of and can directly profit from.
In her latest column for the Huffington Post, CDT President Leslie Harris agrees with Franken’s assessment, noting the grim possibilities in store for us if the ISPs have their way:
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Here's the brutal truth: when the dust from rulemaking and the inevitable court battles to follow has settled - the Internet that we have come to know and love may no longer exist.