Did a Federal Court Just Rule Against Internet Free Speech?

A federal court’s new ruling would allow broadband Internet providers to choose what websites, content and apps you are able to connect with. The new ruling essentially strikes down the FCC’s “net neutrality” rules that prohibited communication companies from censoring completely lawful Internet content for whatever reason they want. The court has said that big companies like Verizon and Comcast can choose to block or significantly slow down the loading speed of any website, for any reason—essentially giving them the ability to prevent their own paying customers from browsing the Internet as they please.

So, hypothetically, if your favorite news site says something unfavorable about your Internet provider or is in a partnership with another provider, there’s nothing preventing them from blocking that content. Though that exact situation is probably unlikely, because so many broadband providers have ties to media companies (like say, Comcast and NBC), msn.com could be delivered much faster than competitor sites. It can also allow your provider to charge you more money to receive an uncensored, full-speed Internet experience. For example, they could, in theory, charge you more to connect to a streaming service like Netflix. As Ben Collins of Esquire argues, “The very worst a consumer can expect is that some information will be deemed too unsavory for public consumption, while select corporate messages can be blasted to your home at lightning speed” …

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