ACLU: Keep the Internet Open and Innovative

April 17, 2008 12:00 am

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Activists Speak Out Against Censorship by Network Operators at FCC Field Hearing

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Washington, DC –The ACLU submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today calling for open access to the internet. Its activists plan to participate in today’s FCC public hearing on Internet freedom and net neutrality in Palo Alto.

In comments to the FCC, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, Caroline Fredrickson, said the “future of the Internet as a marketplace of ideas for all users” is at stake. Fredrickson said the ACLU’s comments “raise the broader question of whether the Internet is to be preserved as a bastion for the exchange of lawful content and ideas free of censorship by corporate gatekeepers.”

Fredrickson said that on the Internet, speakers exercising their First Amendment rights are forced to strike deals with network operators. She said that forcing speakers to negotiate for free speech rights is precisely what the FCC should seek to avoid, and that a genuine network neutrality policy would avert. Fredrickson said, “The Internet is too valuable a public conduit to allow it to fall prey to parochial business interests.”

The ACLU comments make clear that Internet access is “not just any business; it involves the sacred role of making available to citizens a forum for speech and self-expression and access to the speech and self-expression of others.”

The ACLU, which has been fighting for free speech for 87 years, wants government leaders both at the FCC and in Congress to take immediate action to safeguard free speech and innovation online.

“At stake is whether we should allow a handful of giant corporations to stifle free expression on the Web for their own gain,” she said. The ACLU advocates that the government should put in place baseline protections that will leave the Internet open to the millions of people who use it.

For the ACLU’s comments to the FCC:
http:///freespeech/gen/34924leg20080417.html /

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