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Freedom of Speech

Why FCC proposed net neutrality regs are unconstitutional -- See my NPR Online op-ed

My NPR Online op-ed: "Net Neutrality Regulations Compromise Freedoms" makes the case why the FCC Chairman's proposed net neutrality regulations are likely unconstitutional in multiple dimensions. 

If you like the op-ed please click on the "Recommend" check button above the title or at the end of the piece, that is in the link below, because that will keep the op-ed posted longer than otherwise.

My proposed title, which was supplanted for space concerns, was: "Taking Freedom From Some Takes Freedom From All."

  • Below is the text of my NPR Online op-ed.

 

"Net Neutrality Regulations Compromise Freedoms

September 29, 2009

Does collective intelligence have limits?

A tip of the hat to Andrew Orlowski of the Register for connecting some important dots others did not in his piece "Google cranks up the consensus machine."

  • Andrew noted the exceptionally important precursor that Google's Marissa Meyer indicated in a Techcrunch interview that, going forward, Google would cross it's neutral search line and begin editing search results produced by its currently human-intervention-free algorithm.

This is a big deal because Google has long preached that much of the value and relevance of Google's searches is that the search algorithm is fully automated and thus objective and not biased by human input.

Andrew is wise to ask what standards Google will employ in deciding which search results to effectively censor and which search results to vault to the top of the first page? And will they share them with us or will they be opaque like the advertising Quality variable? 

  • It is important to know what the standards will be because this is a very slippery slope with far reaching implications.

It will also be interesting to see if the guardians of free speech on the Internet also connect the dots that the heretofore "neutral" barrier is being breached for the Internet's dominant gateway to the world's information.

Lots to think about -- if this is indeed a paradigm shift for the Web 2.0 movement.

PFF's Thierer debunks net neutrality as "First Amendment"

Kudos to Adam Thierer of PFF for his outstanding post which brilliantly deconstructs the fatal flaws in SavetheInternet's (and others) characterization of Net Neutrality as the "First Amendment of the Internet" to protect freedom of speech. 

The whole post is an excellent and illuminating read; I strongly recommend it. Here's the gist of why I liked it so much:

  • "Indeed, when Net neutrality supporters like the “Save the Internet Coalition” make statements like “Network neutrality is the Internet’s First Amendment,” I sometimes wonder if they are reading the same Constitution that I am. After all, the language of the First Amendment could not be more clear when it says, “Congress shall make no law…” It doesn’t contain any caveats or footnotes. And the First Amendment most certainly was not intended as a tool for government to control the editorial discretion of private individuals or institutions. It was about restricting the power of the government to curtail speech and expression."

Adam does a great job of showing how this argument in favor of net neutrality runs counter to any plain reading of the U.S. Constitution.

 

The Neutral Doctrine? The Fairness Doctrine for the Net

FCC Commissioner McDowell recently warned bloggers at the Heritage Foundation to look out for the Net neutrality issue to become intertwined with a possible push for the return of the Fairness Doctrine. He's right to lay down that marker.  

  • See a great piece by Jeff Poor of the Business and Media Institute on the subject: "FCC Commissioner: Return of Fairness Doctrine could control web content."

The Fairness Doctrine was an FCC regulation that required broadcasters to "fairly" present both sides of controversial topics -- or be subject to FCC investigations and fines.

What's Google got to hide? Google's CEO Schmidt ducks questions from the real free press

I couldn't help to notice yesterday that Google CEO Schmidt didn't take any questions from reporters who were in attendance or meet with the reporter pool afterwards, which is customary for speaking venues like Dr. Schmidt's speech Monday at the Economic Club of Washington.

What's Google got to hide in Washington?

  • Could it be that Google does not think that questions of a leading corporate CEO, who is now Chairman of the New America Foundation think tank concerning: antitrust, privacy, consumer protection, good government, transparency, openness, tax, net neutrality, and broadband Universal Service -- are not considered legitimate questions or fair game in Washington?
  • Do public questions of public leaders seeking ambitious changes in public policy and public discourse, not warrant an open forum for questions from a free press in a democracy?

Bottom line: It appears the only kind of "free press" that Google embraces is its advocacy group ally that calls itself FreePress, which is the operation which de facto runs point for Google's net neutrality public policy agenda in Washington.

Unleashed: Transcript of Griffin/Cleland talk on Google, net neutrality, monopolies, click fraud, privacy

For those who like the written format, here is the link to the transcript of Chip Griffin's interview of me on all things Google.

This interview turned out to be one of the most comprehensive and in-depth discussions I have had on all things Google -- that's been captured for web listening or reading.

We discussed:

Unleashed! Why I focus so much on Google -- Listen to Chip Griffin's interview of me...

Here is the link to Chip Griffin's 28 minute interview of me on "Conversations with Chip Griffin," an in-depth conversation about many of the reasons why I believe Google is becoming such a big problem and why I personally spend so much time focused on Google.

I believe you will find it an informative, interesting, and entertaining interview covering all things Google, the online economy, net neutrality etc.

  • Enjoy!  

Google's free speech double standard "for the good of humanity"

A Bloomberg article highlights yet another Google double standard.

  • A Bloomberg article by Janine Zacharia reports on how Google takes down content that is found objectionable by individual countries in: "Google Diplomats Bend Free Expression to Preserve Global Power."

The Google double standard is that Google takes down content objectional to other countries but refuses to largely comply with the legitimate bipartisan request of the Senate Homeland Security Committee to take down terrorist branded content designed to incite violence against Americans and others around the world. 

Chairman Lieberman responds to NYT editorial about asking Google to take down terrorist content

Senate Homeland Security Chairman Lieberman has a great response to the New York Times editorial defending Google for not taking down terrorist content.

  • "...Al Qaeda and its affiliates are engaged in a wartime communications strategy to recruit, amass funds and inspire savage attacks against American troops and civilians. Their Internet videos are branded with logos, authenticating them as enemy communications. They are patent incitements to violence, not First Amendment-protected speech. And they fall outside Google’s own stated guidelines for content..."

Well said.

I wish Google-YouTube and the New York Times editorial board would be more open, transparent, and straightforward and admit that this is speech that they personally believe should be protected -- and not bogusly try and hide behind the Constitution when the Constitutional arbiter of free speech, the United States Supreme Court categorically disagrees with Google-Youtube's and the New York Times' editorial board's "free speech" definition.

  • If they truly believe in the validity of their position -- Google-YouTube and the NYT editorial board -- should own their views, defend them on the merits, and not hide behind an empty rhetorical facade...  
  • It's neither inspiring or persuasive...

There's no constitutional free speech protection for inciting terrorism; Google-YouTube and NYT are off-base

The New York Times in it's Sunday editorial: "Joe Lieberman, Would-Be Censor" needs to go back to school on what is "constitutionally protected free speech," because they obviously don't understand the full Constitution or context.  

  • The brouhaha here is that Senate Homeland Security Chairman wrote a letter to Google-YouTube requesting that they take down terrorist content "intended to encourage violence against the West." (My first post on this is here.)
  • Almost immediately, Google-YouTube essentially stiff-armed the Senate Homeland Security Committee in a blog post that said no to most of their request. (My second post on this is here.)

I suggest the New York Times editorial board and Google-YouTube go back to the Constitution, which importantly protects freedom of speech in the First Amendment, but also makes the Supreme Court in Article III, the essential final arbiter of what the Constitution says and means in everyday life -- not the New York Times or Google-YouTube authority-wannabes.

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