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Adam Thierer – The Future of the First Amendment in an Age of Technological Convergence

Thursday, March 12, 2009
12:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd floor open space
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States + Google Map

Food and discussion begins at 12:30 pm. Everyone invited.

The First Amendment — at least as the FCC and the courts read it today — is a house divided; a veritable jurisprudential Twilight Zone in which identical words and images are being regulated in completely different ways depending on the mode of transmission. A regulator viewing the same program on six different screens in the same room would not be able to determine the regulatory treatment of each screen until they determine how the signal had been transmitted to each one. In essence, each medium — broadcast, cable, print, the Internet — is a law into itself.

Can such a schizophrenic speech regime survive in an age of information abundance and platform convergence? And, to the extent technological convergence leads to policy convergence, in which direction should that convergence occur? Should broadcasting be regulated more like the Net, or vice-versa?