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Verizon: net neutrality laws violate free speech protections

updated 06:42 pm EDT, Tue July 3, 2012

Carrier blasts FCC over neutrality proposals

Verizon has stepped up its rhetoric against the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality proposals, arguing that such rules represent a violation of free speech and property rights. In a US Court of Appeals filing, as part of an ongoing lawsuit focusing on net neutrality regulations established in 2010, the carrier further claims that the FCC lacks the authority to impose or enforce the laws.

The company notes that 11 pieces of net neutrality legislation have been debated in congress, but none were approved or enacted. The filing attempts to chip away at the FCC's "broad authority" claims, arguing that none of the provisions referenced by the Commission "expressly authorizes these rules."

"Broadband networks are the modern-day microphone by which their owners engage in First Amendment speech," Verizon added, questioning the constitutionality of the regulations. The company claims the First Amendment protects its right to control content that passes over its wireless network.

"Although broadband providers have generally exercised their discretion to allow all content in an undifferentiated manner, they nonetheless possess discretion that these rules preclude them from exercising," the filing reads.

The company also suggests the FCC's regulations represent a violation of Fifth Amendment protections, which prohibit private property from being taken for public use without compensation. The filing argues that broadband represents private property, and net neutrality regulations enable third parties to "physically invade networks with their electronic signals and permanently occupy portions of network capacity."

It remains unclear if the court will agree with any of Verizon's arguments regarding the constitutionality of the laws or the FCC's authority to impose such regulations. [via Ars Technica]

by MacNN Staff



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