WASHINGTON—Today the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) filed a brief urging the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to protect the free speech rights of Internet users and reject Internet service providers' claims that they have a First Amendment right to edit their customers' Internet experience.
CDT, working with Yale Law School's Information Society Project and joined by over a dozen law professors expert in the First Amendment, telecommunications and Internet law, filed its friend-of-the-court brief in the case of Verizon v. FCC. That lawsuit, brought by Verizon and MetroPCS, challenges the Open Internet Rules issued by the FCC in December 2010 to enforce the principle of Internet neutrality.
The brief responds to the companies' argument that they have a First Amendment right to exercise "editorial discretion" over the content they transmit, a right they argue renders unconstitutional the FCC's requirement that they not block or interfere with their customers' access to lawful Internet content. The brief filed today takes issue with the providers' attempt to liken themselves to newspaper editors, and it explains how the net neutrality rules do not restrict Verizon or MetroPCS's own speech but only regulate their conduct as a conduit for others' speech.