FCC: ISPs have no First Amendment right to edit content

Jon Brodkin, writing for Ars Technica:

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday said it did not violate the First Amendment rights of Internet service providers when it voted to implement net neutrality rules.

Broadband providers who sued to overturn the rules claim their constitutional rights are being violated, but the FCC disputed that and other arguments in a filing in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

ISPs are conduits for the speech of others; they are not delivering their own messages when they connect their customers to the Internet, the FCC argued. Rules against blocking and throttling Internet content thus do not violate the ISPs’ constitutional rights, the FCC said.

“Nobody understands broadband providers to be sending a message or endorsing speech when transmitting the Internet content that a user has requested,” the FCC wrote. “When a user directs her browser to the New York Times or Wall Street Journal editorial page, she has no reason to think that the views expressed there are those of her broadband provider.”

No shit.

ISPs are going to constantly try and undermine the FCC at every turn, poking little holes in every argument, all in the pursuit of their end goal of being able to act like unfettered dickwads. This is going to be a long, boring fight, but the ramifications of a deregulated Internet are terrifying.