Op-Ed: The Supreme Court could upend the internet. How? By ruling on the constitutionality of all the internet’s core legal concepts.
By Paul Schwartzman
In a recent Supreme Court decision, a majority of the justices decided, per Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that because the internet is a “networked public accommodation,” it must afford certain protections under the First Amendment.
And it’s all because the justices thought Americans should have some special protections when it comes to their online activities, as the internet is increasingly being used for both malicious and non-malicious purposes by a large number of people.
The decision by the nation’s highest court (at least at the moment of this writing) could upend the entire internet.
In what’s quickly becoming the internet’s most significant decision ever, the Court upheld a federal law designed to make sure internet service providers (ISPs) don’t “lock-out” — meaning prevent people from using the internet on their devices — for “excessive amounts of time.” This makes it so that you have to purchase a “time-out” from an ISP — by giving up your rights to your PC.
This decision by the very “highest court” in the land could have significant ramifications across the entire internet, not just the internet that you and millions of others use every day.
Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority in the case of Verio, Inc. v. FCC, explained the background and details of the law.
Verio was a provider of broadband internet access to its subscribers, which provided online access in the form of a “network” to others who wanted the same services. They paid the provider a fee for the privilege.
However, Verio claimed it was being charged too much: more than $7 per hour and more than $12 per day for “peak” use. Specifically, Verio said that it was being charged these prices even though it had to pay for these charges to all of its customers, not just Verio customers.
Verio sued the FCC to try to force the “network” charges to be paid only by