NRB Hosts Roundtable on ‘The Internet Highway and the Rules of the Road’

John Milton PanelLast week, NRB’s John Milton Project for Free Speech and The Heritage Foundation co-hosted a roundtable discussion on the future of Internet regulation, the FCC’s “net neutrality” proposal, and the dynamics of innovation/free market and citizen free speech on the Web.

At The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Auditorium in Washington, DC, Robert Gordon, Senior Advisor for Strategic Outreach at The Heritage Foundation, welcomed members of the press and the NRB President’s Council to the event - the fifth organized by the John Milton Project.

Also offering introductory remarks was NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, who shared NRB’s three-point mission, with emphasis on the third – to defend free speech – as it related to the roundtable.

Dr. Johnson noted that the approach to free speech on the Internet was different from that to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Still, the issue is an area of particular interest and importance to NRB as an association of Christian broadcasters and communicators.

Moderating the hour-long discussion was Craig Parshall, Director of the John Milton Project and Senior Vice President & General Counsel of NRB, who set the tone by painting a picture of the Internet as a highway, with telecom companies serving as toll booths and the platforms of media technology companies (which the FCC calls “Edge Providers”) as destinations.

“They are private businesses to which the First Amendment doesn’t apply. Well, then what do we do then about these takedowns?” Parshall posed, referring to the removal of content that communicates politically “incorrect” opinions.

“And is it a threat to free speech or does free speech simply not come into the equation?” he added.

JMPOn the panel this year were Paul Misener, Vice President of Global Policy for Amazon; Jeffrey Rosen, President & CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia; and Andrew Kloster, Legal Fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

While viewpoints and experience varied from panelist to panelist, all were in agreement regarding the importance of the John Milton Project’s efforts in monitoring the threats of anti-Christian censorship and other free speech violations on the Internet. The importance of the ongoing conversation was also stressed.

Following the discussion was a Q & A session. Afterward, Jennifer Marshall, The Heritage Foundation’s Vice President for the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, presented the 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity, which monitors key social and economic indicators to determine whether important indicators of opportunity in America are on the right or wrong track.

To watch the video recording of the roundtable discussion, click here.

By NRB Staff

Published: September 18, 2014

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