21 December 2012

Free Speech Online

The January 2013 issue of Scientific American contains A To-Do List for Washington, by the Editors, urging dramatic action on three science policy issues that matter most. Their second is the one we quote below. Italics are ours.


The Internet has become our public square and printing press—a place where citizens have their voices heard. That freedom to speak must be protected. Network neutrality—the idea that all data on the Internet should be treated equally regardless of creator or content—is often considered to be a technical business matter. At its core, however, net neutrality guarantees the right to speak freely on the Internet without fear of gatekeepers who would block content with which they disagree. The Federal Communications Commission must enforce policies that would protect free speech on the Internet. The most powerful method at the commission’s disposal is to reverse policies enacted a decade ago by the FCC and reclassify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service. Just as the telephone companies cannot now referee your phone conversations, the owners of broadband Internet lines should not be allowed to interfere with what online content citizens have access to.