- November 10: Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted that “‘Net Neutrality’ is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.”
- November 10: Cruz posts substantially the same comment as he did on Twitter to Facebook.
- November 13: Cruz published an op-ed piece in The Washington Post. In this, he doubled down on his idea that Net Neutrality would be devastating for the internet.
- November 16: Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) commented that Cruz simply “doesn’t understand” what Net Neutrality is.
- November 17: Cruz published a video explaining his position against Net Neutrality and why he thinks it’s a bad idea.
“What happens when government starts regulating a service as a public utility? It calcifies everything. It freezes it in place,” said Cruz.
The Republican Texas Senator has become the latest figurehead in the ongoing battle over the concept known as Net Neutrality. He’s one of the few voices outside of the major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that is against the regulation of the internet as a Title II utility.
Let’s start here: Ted Cruz is wrong. Net Neutrality will not be the end of innovation on the internet. It will not be the death of everything good and cat online. It will, in fact, lead to a leveling of the playing field, which is what originally led to the internet being such a diverse resource.
Cruz knows this, he is trying to publicly pay back the contributions he received from Comcast before the midterms.
But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt here, how does Cruz see Net Neutrality affecting traffic on the internet? According to Cruz, “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.”
That is the situation we are currently in – not the situation we will be in. Except, it isn’t the government that’s establishing TOSs and what’s available, it’s monopolies and that want to continue to sell off lesser and lesser service for higher and higher prices.
The current state aside, his understanding is flawed. Net Neutrality has little to do with who set prices and who is defining terms of service. It is simply the concept that data must be treated equally by ISPs.
This means that your provider cannot choose to slow your connection to a service like Netflix, if you choose to go there just to squeeze Netflix for more money. Senator Cruz would like to pretend that these sort of monopolistic practices aren’t occurring, he is wrong.
In the graph on the left, you can see where Netflix experienced slower delivery once it entered into negotiations with Comcast, the company that paid contributions to Ted Cruz, until it agreed to pay the price that Comcast was demanding. Essentially, Comcast slowed down connections on their service to Netflix until Netflix agreed to pay up for access to Comcast’s “fast lane”. It’s a practice completely at odds with fair practices, but completely in keeping with maintaining a monopolistic control over an infrastructure that was funded by taxpayer dollars.
Then there’s Cruz’s tweet that’s been making the rounds in media.
“Net Neutrality” is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 10, 2014
The comparison to Obamacare is complicated to unpack if you want to make a good-faith effort to tell the truth. You have to start with the principle that Republicans hate Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, despite any positive effects it has. The truth is though, that Obamacare is working. It is helping millions of previously uninsured and uninsurable people get access to health care.
Cruz isn’t referring to Obamacare in that context. He simply is essentially saying, ‘Obamacare is a disaster. Net Neutrality is like Obamacare. Net Neutrality is a disaster.’
But Obamacare – the Affordable Care Act – isn’t a disaster. It’s succeeding. Net Neutrality won’t be a disaster either – not for Americans. It may be a disaster for Cruz though if he can’t protect the interests of those contributors at Comcast.
Ted Cruz clearly doesn’t understand either Net Neutrality or Obamacare.
|Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.|