Bloomberg – The US Supreme Court has upheld a controversial law that allows Internet providers to sell ads on their networks without having to obtain a court order.
In the case, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) challenged Section 222 of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) of 1992.
The law, passed in 1999, allowed telecommunications providers to purchase advertising time for websites.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sued to stop the law, arguing it would undermine competition and consumer protection.
But the Supreme Court in July upheld the law on a narrow question of First Amendment rights, finding that Section 222’s “clearly legitimate” purpose was to allow the FCC to charge more for the rights of users than it would otherwise charge.”CALETA’s goal of protecting privacy and protecting the free flow of information, which is essential to the functioning of our democratic society, is not only legitimate, but is a key part of our economy and of our democracy,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court.
The law’s supporters argued that Section 223 could have been enacted to allow companies to offer services for free, but they did not argue that it violated the First Amendment.
The court ruled that Section 221 is not an unconstitutional “marketplace provision” under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, because it only allows companies to sell advertising to websites.
“There is no indication that Section 224 would be found to violate the First or Fourteenth Amendment,” Kennedy wrote.
The ruling means that Section 225 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is still in effect.