Government-Provided Internet Access, Infrastructures of Free Expression, and the Role of the State

Forthcoming in Mobile Technologies and Access to Knowledge (2018) Ramesh Subramanian & Stefanie Felsberger, eds.

Elon University Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2948605

14 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2017 Last revised: 12 Aug 2017

Date Written: August 11, 2017

Abstract

If one’s focus zooms out from the infrastructure and technology involved, Internet access networks are speech spaces. When the government is involved in their development or operation, these spaces are provided either in name or in fact by the State; to use the traditional parlance of First Amendment jurisprudence, these networks are publicly owned property over which citizen expression travels. Due to the pace of change, we run the risk of accepting State-provided digital speech spaces unreservedly as part of our communications infrastructure without asking the fundamental questions of what law applies, what is permissible and what the Constitution bars. Societies must not rush to embrace new technology and, in the process, leave behind all of the longstanding protections from government interference that are well established in every other context. It would be ironic, indeed tragic, if the 21st century speaker loses the protections that were unquestionably enjoyed by the speaker who was communicating in government-provided speech spaces long before the iPhone was even invented.

Keywords: First Amendment; Net Neutrality; Communications Law

Suggested Citation

Armijo, Enrique, Government-Provided Internet Access, Infrastructures of Free Expression, and the Role of the State (August 11, 2017). Forthcoming in Mobile Technologies and Access to Knowledge (2018) Ramesh Subramanian & Stefanie Felsberger, eds., Elon University Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2948605, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2948605

Enrique Armijo (Contact Author)

Elon University School of Law ( email )

201 N. Greene Street
Greensboro, NC 27401
United States
3362799327 (Phone)

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