Net neutrality (or network neutrality) is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs), such as Verizon or Comcast, should not be able to block or prioritize different sorts of data. The Ninth Circuit, which is comprised of Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, and Washington state, is the largest Court of Appeals in the United States both in population and land mass. Recently, the Ninth Circuit ruled in a case that net neutrality requirements applied to internet service providers in those states. This decision put to test the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s 2019 decision of Mozilla v. FCC, which ruled that states would be able to create regulations regarding net neutrality.
Last Friday, Facebook’s Oversight Board (“the Board”) issued its latest verdict, overturning the company’s decision to remove a post that moderators alleged violated Facebook’s Violence and Incitement Community Standard. This judgment brings the Board’s total number of decisions to seven, with the Board overturning the Facebook’s own decision in five out of the six substantive rulings it has issued. The Board’s cases have covered several topics so far, including nudity and hate speech. Because Facebook’s Oversight Board does not have any modern equivalents, it is worth exploring what went into this experiment’s formation.
The Internet has given millions of people the capability to share information with each other with just the click of a button. People have grown accustomed to learning about current events, researching, and gathering information all through digital news sources. Unfortunately, the ease of the Internet has also created complications with regulating how users share that information. As technology rapidly advances, the legal limitations concerning intellectual property rights have become blurred, resulting in different interpretations of the Copyright Act of 1976. This has complicated user compliance and created difficult questions for the courts to answer based largely on law that was created before many of the capabilities of the Internet existed. There is a need for consistency and balance in this area of the law so that copyright owners are afforded adequate protection and the Internet can continue to serve as an information gathering, content sharing platform without fostering infringement.