The debate over net neutrality is rapidly devolving into a war of the words--increasingly, words that take the form of hyperbole. Case in point: as reported last week by the Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang, White House Deputy Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin told attendees at a recent conference that the Obama administration is committed not only to neutrality but to global free speech, and that indeed, neutrality “underlies free speech on the Web.” The two are “intrinsically linked,” according to McLaughlin, because without neutrality, there is the possibility of censorship.
“If it bothers you that the China government does it, it should bother you when your cable company does it,” McLaughlin was quoted as saying.
The First Amendment, in other words, ought to apply to Internet access providers, and the White House sees Net Neutrality as the mechanism for ensuring that it does.
There’s just one problem with this description of the administration’s plans: it has utterly no basis in the U.S. Constitution.