The Supreme Court's recent decision in Packingham v. North Carolina struck down, as unconstitutional under the First Amendment, a state law making it a felony for registered sex offenders to access social media websites. The decision has wide-ranging potential implications for technology law, especially on matters of rights to access the internet, which are particularly important for marginalized and disenfranchised voices in our society. Below, Harold Feld reviews the Packingham decision and explores its implications for one area of law: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's provisions regarding termination of Internet access for accused copyright infringers. This post was originally posted on Harold's personal blog, "Tales of the Sausage Factory," on wetmachine.com.
Today Public Knowledge celebrates the first World Wi-Fi Day and the pioneering spectrum management policies that make this technology possible. World Wi-Fi Day is an international initiative organized by the Wireless Broadband Alliance under the leadership of the Connected City Advisory Board to help bridge the digital divide by using Wi-Fi technology to connect the unconnected. The day serves as a reminder that an estimated four billion people worldwide currently don’t have access to the internet and the benefits that connectivity can provide. These include not only economic benefits but the educational, employment, and social opportunities that connection can bring to individuals around the world.
One of the stranger ideas going around among the anti-net neutrality crowd (and in the Federal Communication Commission’s proposal to roll back the net neutrality rules) is the idea that the current rules, adopted by the previous FCC, contain a loophole that allows Internet Service Providers to block whatever websites they want to and generally avoid the rules, provided they use the right magic words--namely, that if they simply say ahead of time they intend to violate the rules, they’re no longer subject to them. This is wrong—the rules only cover broadband ISPs, which are defined quite precisely, but there’s no way for an ISP to continue offering what anyone would recognize as “internet access” without being covered by the rules.
Last week, NCTA, the trade association for the industry formerly known as cable, posted this amazing graph and blog post showing that the "virtuous cycle" the Federal Communications Commission predicted would happen when it adopted the Open Internet rules (a.k.a. net neutrality) back in December 2010.
The concept that “The Customer is Always Right” has such resonance that it has been popular around the globe for more than 100 years, from Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago to Selfridge’s in London, and from the Ritz in Paris, whose motto was "le client n'a jamais tort” (the customer is never wrong) to the German "der Kunde ist König" (the customer is king) and the Japanese "Okyakusama wa Kamisama desu" (the customer is like a god).