The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Christopher Yoo, "The First Amendment, Common Carriers, and Public Accommodations: Net Neutrality, Digital Platforms, and Privacy"


The last article the free speech and social media platforms symposium in the first issue of our Journal of Free Speech Law; you can read the whole article (by Christopher Yoo, Penn) here, but here's the abstract:

Recent prominent judicial opinions have assumed that common carriers have few to no First Amendment rights and that calling an actor a common carrier or public accommodation could justify limiting its right to exclude and mandating that it provide nondiscriminatory access. A review of the history reveals that the underlying law is richer than these simple statements would suggest. The principles for determining what constitutes a common carrier or a public accommodation and the level of First Amendment protection both turn on whether the actor holds itself out as serving all members of the public or whether it asserts editorial discretion over whom to carry or host. This gives putative common carriers and public accommodations substantial control over their First Amendment status. The jurisprudence on privacy regulation, quasi-common carriers, non-common carriage services, and public accommodations confirms that the First Amendment protections they enjoy are substantial.