Every once in a while corporations say things that just make you ask yourself, 'WTF?' That couldn't be more true than with some statements Verizon decided to make today. Namely, the part about net neutrality violating their free speech rights.
In a legal brief filed with the US Court of Appeals, Verizon claims the FCC's attempts to restrict their right to throttle their user's Internet connections exceeds the FCC's authority. We've all heard that before, but this time Verizon decided to take things a step further by claiming that any attempts to regulate their networks is unconstitutional. Ahem, if we may quote (you can check out the whole brief by clicking 'Verizon vs FCC' at the bottom of this article):
Broadband networks are the modern-day microphone by which their owners engage in First Amendment speech... Just as a newspaper is entitled to decide which content to publish and where, broadband providers may feature some content over others.
Now, we're not legal scholars here at Neowin, but that just sounds insanely stupid. But we're not judging. Verizon also says that the FCC's attempts at regulation violate their Fifth Amendment rights to private property by forcing them to allow unrestricted access to their network without just compensation for its use by already paying customers.
Still, Verizon's whole interpretation of how 'free speech' and 'the Internet' interact is radically different from how most netizens tend think; rather than users employing the Internet to transmit their own free speech protected content, Verizon thinks that the interaction occurs when they decide to throttle their annoying user's connection, slowing them to a crawl.
Verizon is basically interpreting any interaction that occurs over their network as 'belonging' to them. That means that it's their right to pick and choose what goes through, how fast it goes through, and anything else involving their network. Consequently, Verizon is in charge, just like a newspaper is in charge of what gets published and what doesn't.
The fact is, there's nothing to compare the Internet to. We're treading on fresh ground, and the decisions that get made now will have huge ramifications for future generations: either Verizon gets their way and their ludicrous interpretation of the law reigns supreme, or we get to hang on to a free and open Internet that doesn't pretend to be a newspaper, or anything else.