Corn-Revere Warns of Constitutional Ramifications of Network Neutrality Debate
WASHINGTON D.C. - Government regulation of the Internet could "provide the vehicle for advancing new First Amendment theories for media regulation," warns Robert Corn-Revere in "The First Amendment, the Internet & Net Neutrality: Be Careful What You Wish For," released today by The Progress & Freedom Foundation. The paper is adapted from remarks Mr. Corn-Revere delivered at a Federal Communications Commission panel discussion on "Speech, Democratic Engagement, and the Open Internet," which took place on December 15, 2009.
In the paper, Corn-Revere, a Partner at the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Washington, D.C, discusses the relationship between the First Amendment and regulatory policy, particularly the treatment of new communications technologies. "It should not be forgotten," he argues, "that the federal government's initial impulse was to censor the Internet and to subject it to a far lower level of First Amendment protection. It pursued this agenda for more than a decade but was blocked by a series of First Amendment rulings." Indeed, the courts determined that "the open Internet would be at great risk if the government is allowed to exercise such power."
Corn-Revere warns that the, "constitutional ramifications of the network neutrality debate extend far beyond the question of whether the FCC should or should not adopt a given set of rules. On a doctrinal level the question is whether technological convergence should also lead to regulatory convergence, where the least common denominator of First Amendment protection becomes the governing rule."
"The First Amendment, the Internet & Net Neutrality: Be Careful What You Wish For" is available on the PFF website.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.