Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Imagine life with a restricted Web

Net neutrality is an essential feature of the Internet that Americans take for granted. Under those rules, Internet service providers cannot limit what people do online or give some content providers a fast lane to consumers while consigning others to a slow lane. But this government-enforced freedom is in jeopardy. A case argued Monday before a federal appeals court asks whether the Federal Communications Commission has any role to play in ensuring equal access to all traffic on the Internet. If federal rules are loosened, the Web will surely become more limited, less innovative and more expensive for consumers.

The case brought by Verizon, one of the country's largest Internet service providers, could upend some of the most successful government open-marketplace rules. The FCC's 2010 Open Internet order says service providers cannot block Internet traffic or unreasonably discriminate against content. They cannot give preference to their own websites over a competitor's or require content providers to pay more for better access to consumers. If that were the case, the Internet could essentially freeze up with big names like Google and Facebook holding the power and resources to block startups and smaller rivals.

The question before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit boils down to whether the FCC has the authority to regulate the Internet at all. Verizon claims that it has a First Amendment right to control the expressive content that flows over its broadband systems. It argues that Congress has not given the FCC the discretion to impose rules on the way the Internet operates. During oral arguments that lasted two hours — triple the amount of time formally scheduled — two of the three judges seemed to sympathize with Verizon's claims that the federal agency illegally stretched rules meant for telephones to fit the Web. One reason the FCC is in a legal box is that 10 years ago, the agency said the Internet is not like a telecommunications service, an area where it has broad regulatory authority.

But the FCC can reasonably claim ancillary authority under other federal statutes, such as one that encourages the agency to expand broadband access. And as to Verizon wrapping itself in the First Amendment, Internet service providers made the opposite argument when the issue was liability for Web content that infringes copyrights. In that case, they claimed they were passive conduits with no editorial control and should not be responsible for what moved across their pipes.

The Web is a vibrant, open marketplace of creativity, information and inventive commerce because net neutrality rules have built a superstructure that keeps access free. It should remain that way.

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Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the stateís fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the November b...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region wonít make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Floridaís citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nationís health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

St. Petersburg city officials are exploring how to cut down on single-use plastic straws, a commendable effort to make the city even more environmentally minded. But to succeed, City Council members should craft a modest, reasonable restriction that ...
Published: 04/10/18