North Idaho internet provider blocks Facebook, Twitter for customers who want to block them

I know this isn’t Minnesota but this was concerning news from KARE 11

A North Idaho internet provider, Your T1 WIFI, confirmed it is blocking Facebook and Twitter from its WIFI service for some customers due to censorship claims.

Your T1 WIFI provides internet services to North Idaho and the Spokane area.

The move comes after Twitter and Facebook banned President Trump from their platforms due to incitement of violence and undermining the transition of power to President elect Joe Biden.

The social media sites banned the President due to violations of their terms of service. Because Twitter and Facebook are private companies, their bans on the President do not violate the First Amendment, which protects speech from being limited by the government.

Your T1 WIFI’s actions, however, could violate Washington state’s Net Neutrality law.

Your T1 WIFI said it decided to block Twitter and Facebook after the company received several calls from customers about both websites.

Without irony, the ISP is blocking those site because they don’t think they have the authority to censor…

In an email posted to Twitter by a customer, Krista Yep, the company says it was fielding calls from customers asking that the service not display the sites on the internet, and that they didn’t want their children to be able to access them.

“Our company does not believe a website or social networking site has the authority to censor what you see and post and hide information from you, stop you from seeing what your friends and family are posting,” the email reads. “This is why with the amount of concerns, we have made this decision to block these two websites from being accessed from our network.”

Apparently they got complaints and decided to block Facebook and Twitter. Then they got complaints about blocking the sites and now you can have it either way. The article says two-thirds of customers asked for Twitter and Facebook to be blocked.

There is concern that this may be illegal…

While Your T1 WIFI says they acted in response to censorship, the company’s actions could also be considered censorship. In addition, they may violate Washington state’s Net Neutrality law, which states that internet providers may not manipulate access to content.

The law contains the following language:

A person engaged in the provision of broadband internet access service in Washington state, insofar as the person is so engaged, may not:
(a) Block lawful content, applications, services, or nonharmful devices, subject to reasonable network management;
(b) Impair or degrade lawful internet traffic on the basis of internet content, application, or service, or use of a nonharmful device, subject to reasonable network management; or
(c) Engage in paid prioritization

A spokesperson for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division was “taking a look at the matter.” Brionna Aho, a spokesperson for Attorney General Bob Ferguson, said he takes enforcement of the net neutrality law “very seriously.”

It highlights the importance of broadband competition. What if this was the only provider if your area?

This entry was posted in Policy, Vendors by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s