Al Franken (D-MN) had some spot-on words for Sen. Ted Cruz’ (R-TX) attitude towards net neutrality. For those who haven’t yet heard, Ted Cruz called net neutrality “Obamacare for the Internet,” and claimed that designating it a public utility is “anti-competitive.” Al Franken said, according to Mediaite, that Cruz clearly has no idea what net neutrality actually is, and he’s quite right about that.
Franken also said that we’ve had net neutrality for the entire existence of the Internet, and he’s quite right about that, too. It’s only recently that anybody’s actually thought about Internet regulation, and that’s because the ISPs are huge companies that will favor those who best line their pockets, at the expense of everyone else. Sadly, without some type of regulation, the ISPs will start working to screw everyone except the very biggest and richest among us.
Cruz’ comparison with Obamacare falls apart in several places. Franken points out this huge error in Cruz’ thinking: Obamacare changed something. Net neutrality would keep things the same as they are now. Abolishing net neutrality, and giving the ISPs latitude to strike deals with those who can make them richer, changes things.
What’s sad about Cruz’ attack on net neutrality is that he started his Washington Post op-ed with this:
“Never before has it been so easy to turn an idea into a business. With a simple Internet connection, some ingenuity and a lot of hard work, anyone today can create a new service or app or start selling products nationwide.
In the past, such a person would have to know the right people and raise substantial start-up capital to get a brick-and-mortar store running. Not anymore. The Internet is the great equalizer when it comes to jobs and opportunity. We should make a commitment, right now, to keep it that way.”
Yes! Yes! That’s exactly why we need net neutrality! But then he went on, in all his idiotic glory:
“The next generation of Internet-connected devices, apps and services will generate trillions of dollars of global economic growth in the years ahead. And Americans are perfectly poised to take maximum advantage — if the government doesn’t take those opportunities away in the form of crushing taxes, rules and regulations.
Yet the threats from Washington to stifle freedom, entrepreneurship and creativity online have never been greater. Washington politicians want the money, and they want more and more control over our speech.”
That’s disappointing. But the kicker came here, where he explained his “Obamacare for the Internet” tweet:
“Third, we must promote growth in the technological sector, a consistent bright spot for the U.S. economy. But we won’t realize more of that dynamic growth unless we keep the Internet free from the kind of unnecessary regulation that is strangling our health-care, energy and banking industries.
And one of the biggest regulatory threats to the Internet is ‘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.”
No, Ted Cruz doesn’t get it. As Tim Berners-Lee, the Internet’s creator, said:
“Control of information is hugely powerful. In the US, the threat is that companies control what I can access for commercial reasons. (In China, control is by the government for political reasons.) There is a very strong short-term incentive for a company to grab control of TV distribution over the Internet even though it is against the long-term interests of the industry.”
There’s a question for Cruz; one that he and other Republicans won’t answer when they scream and cry about “government overreach.” How is a company controlling the information we access for selfish, commercial reasons really any different from a government controlling it for selfish, political reasons? Why is it okay for huge companies to have the very type of control that they fear the government having?
The answer is, “because government.”
Al Franken is right; Ted Cruz doesn’t get it. But Ted Cruz doesn’t get an awful lot. It’s a crying shame we’re stuck with him in the Senate until 2018.
Watch the video here:
Featured image via screengrab