By Elaine Magliaro
Last week, Senator Ted Cruz wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post titled Regulating the Internet threatens entrepreneurial freedom. In his piece, Cruz claimed that one of the greatest regulatory threats to the Internet was net neutrality.
In short, net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet. It would put the government in charge of determining Internet pricing, terms of service and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities and higher prices.
President Obama this week came out aggressively for net neutrality and turning the Internet into a public utility. Some in the online community have embraced this call, thinking that cheaper prices would result. But when has that worked? Government-regulated utilities invariably destroy innovation and freedom. Which is more innovative, the U.S. Postal Service or Facebook and Twitter? Which is better for consumers, city taxi commissions or Uber and Lyft?
John Oliver provided a different perspective on the subject of net neutrality. He talked about it on Last Week Tonight a few months ago:
Senator Al Franken of Minnesota took issue with Cruz’s statements regarding net neutrality. On Sunday, Franken spoke with Candy Crowley on CNN’s State of the Union program. As Josh Israel of ThinkProgress noted, Franken took aim at Cruz’s claim that preserving net neutrality would “stifle freedom, entrepreneurship and creativity online.” Franken told Crowley that net neutrality “has been the way things have been since the beginning of the Internet and that creating a ‘fast lane’ for certain content, whose providers pay extra for it, would be ‘a terrible, terrible, terrible idea.’”
Franken pointed out the example of what happened with Google Video and Youtube some years ago. He said that YouTube, which was created by “three entrepreneurs in a pizzeria,” was much better than the video system created by Google. Franken said that because both “YouTube and Google Video had equal access to Internet bandwidth…the better product became more popular and Google ultimately paid $1.65 billion dollars to acquire YouTube.”
Crowley asked Franken about Cruz’s Washington Post op-ed in which the Texas Republican claimed “regulating the Internet threatens entrepreneurial freedom,” just as he believes the Affordable Care Act is “strangling our health-care” industry.
CROWLEY: [Cruz wrote] “Net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet. It would put the government in charge of determining Internet prices, terms of service and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities and higher prices. Government-regulated utilities invariably destroy innovation and freedom.” Your reaction?
FRANKEN: He has it completely wrong. He just doesn’t understand what this issue is. We’ve had net neutrality the entire history of the Internet, so when he says this is the Obamacare… Obamacare was a government program that fixed something, that changed things. This is about reclassifying something, so it stays the same. This would keep things exactly the same. And the pricing happens by the value of something.
Jane C. Timm (MSNBC):
Indeed, Obamacare set significant regulations on what kinds of health insurance consumers could buy, set penalties for Americans who failed to acquire coverage, and established the marketplaces that sell health plans. Net neutrality, by contrast, is the principle that Internet service providers treat all content equally, as they have in the past, so that a student’s blog loads as quickly as a major shopping site, and neither can be charged a pay-to-play fee.
Senator Cruz “hit back” at Al Franken. He responded with a video, which Jason Easley (Politicus USA) said actually proved that Franken was correct.
In the video, Cruz has his own bizarro explanation of something that definitely isn’t net neutrality.
Cruz said, “What happens when government starts regulating a service as a public utility. It calcifies everything. It freezes it in place. Let’s give a simple contrast. The Telecommunications Act of 1934 was adopted to regulate these. (Cruz holds up a rotary phone.) To put regulations in place, and what happened? It froze everything in place. This (rotary phone) is regulated by Title II. This is not (smartphone). Your smartphone, the Internet, the apps. All of this is outside of Title II. The innovation is happening without having to go to government regulators and say mother may I. We want all whole lot more of this (smartphone) and a whole lot less of this (rotary phone).
Cruz’s little song and dance had absolutely nothing to do with net neutrality. What Cruz is obscuring is the fact that an open and free Internet gives innovators a level playing field. Net neutrality is about protecting the free market, not imposing government regulations on it.
Senator Cruz doesn’t appear to understand what net neutrality means. Can he really be that dumb?
Al Franken Explains Why Ted Cruz Doesn’t Understand The Internet (ThinkProgress)
Ted Cruz: Regulating the Internet threatens entrepreneurial freedom (Washington Post)
Al Franken Just Torched Ted Cruz’s Net Neutrality Stance On CNN (Business Insider)
Ted Cruz Hits Back At Al Franken On Net Neutrality (Huffington Post)