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Verizon Wireless fights to “edit” your Internet access!

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” – Leonard H. Courtney

Verizon Wireless is fighting in court to give you Internet access and search results according to what it decides is a “priority.” According to the CNET News commentary by Violet Blue:

Verizon has filed a brief (Verizon vs. FCC) with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for the “freedom” to edit your Internet, dear customer.

If you think this would remain a Verizon issue, think again. If Verizon gatecrashes Internet access filtering, you better bet that other ISPs will hustle to get on the train to sell Internet “priority” spots to the highest bidders.

This comes at the same time that Verizon is set to win approval from the FCC, according to reports, in an airwave buyback deal from a group of cable companies (including Time Warner and Comcast). Only the U.S. Justice Department can block the deal.

Verizon is suing to have the FCC’s net neutrality order thrown out — and it’s not the first time, as Verizon was quick to challenge the FCC about this very issue in 2011 when the FCC first set such rules.

If it seems to you that telecommunications companies are in a contest to see which one is “most evil,” it looks like that to me, too! 😉

The FCC order was intended to preserve the Internet as it began and to keep Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from becoming gatekeepers or “editors.” The FCC order “holds that neither Verizon nor any other Internet provider can block or slow access to online content, including if they disagree with its message or are being paid by a third party to favor some alternative.

Particularly appalling to me is Verizon’s notion that Internet/broadband providers inherently have “editorial discretion,” and are protected by First Amendment Rights, as they proceed to go forth and attempt to limit YOURS!

The CNET News commentary by Violet Blue compares language from the Verizon filing:

In performing these functions [providing the transmission of speech], broadband providers possess “editorial discretion.”

Just as a newspaper is entitled to decide which content to publish and where, broadband providers may feature some content over others.

with an observation made by Media Matters:

Verizon cites as precedent Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC (1994), in which the Supreme Court ruled that cable companies enjoy First Amendment protection because they exercise editorial discretion in transmitting the speech of others, and are not merely neutral pathways over which speech is transmitted without restriction or interference.

and notes that the timing of Verizon’s argument, just as it is about to acquire cable company airwaves, does not seem coincidental.


In 2008, Verizon rejected Hollywood’s call to filter the Internet in an attempt to use Internet censorship to “fight piracy.”

Although this bit of history might suggest that Verizon’s latest suit might be merely a legal tactic, my experience suggests that “business ethics” adopts different degrees of fluidity, depending upon whose money is at stake, and how much! :-)

The notion that the First Amendment can be used by ISPs, and especially cable providers, to shield against net neutrality, is very much contested.

-Bill at

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