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04 April 2014 Published in State Policy Work


To whom it may concern:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah writes to express the importance of the Internet as a vital and active forum for free speech. The Internet is unique in that it is a place where people can publish their views to be seen by a few close friends or to be spread around the world, where users can engage with others on thousands of bulletin boards and chat rooms on nearly any topic, create new communities of interest, or communicate anonymously about difficult topics. It is the closest thing ever invented to a true “free market” of ideas.

The ACLU believes that the government has a responsibility to preserve and protect this precious communications medium. Ground rules must be created and enforced to ensure that the Internet never falls under the influence of private parties with powerful economic incentives to disrupt and distort the free flow of ideas online. Cable broadband providers, for example, have both the technological means and the economic incentives to interfere with the free Internet.

Steps must be taken to insure that free access to the Internet is protected by competition. To that end, the ACLU is lobbying for open-access regulations to counterbalance cable broadband operators and competition. Competition is necessary to not only drive down the price of high-speed Internet, but also to prevent a single monopoly, or handful of large corporations, from controlling the content and services individuals receive over the Internet. One possibility for creating a true open-access architecture that would stop the Internet from losing its free and open nature is the instillation of a fiber-optic network to increase the bandwidth available to all. This would allow citizens to participate fully in the “free market” of ideas.

Please visit the Internet to reference an ACLU White Paper, “No Competition: How Monopoly Control of the Broadband Internet Threatens Free Speech.” The paper provides an overview of why the government should mandate open access to the Internet, and why a long-term program of fiber-optic installation is a viable method of achieving this end.

The ACLU of Utah

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