Sunday, June 17, 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: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

The Trump administration just can’t stop sabotaging Americans’ access to health care. Instead of giving up after it failed to persuade Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it continues to quietly undermine the law in ways that would reduce acc...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Parkland students set example for advocacy

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.The students, all from the school’s drama department, bro...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18