A week ago today President Obama publicly announced his support for net neutrality, the idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should allow the free passage of all data on the Internet at the same speed, regardless of who is providing the data or what ISP is being used to transmit this information. In essence, the President said, the Internet should be treated as a public utility, much like power and water companies currently are, because it is essential to modern-day life, be it in schools, businesses, or our homes. Nothing controversial about that, is there? But the President’s remarks set off a firestorm of criticism among the extreme far Right of the Republican Party and on conservative talk radio.
First out of the starting gate was well-know extremist ideologue Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who posted a message on his Twitter account which read, “Net Neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.” Later that same day, Cruz posted another message, this time on his Facebook page: “The biggest threat to the Internet is ‘net neutrality.'” With these statements, Senator Cruz has once again proven that his is not only ignorant on yet another subject he has chosen to pontificate upon, but is also engaging in nothing short of lying. The junior Senator from Texas is too dense to realize that the very purpose of net neutrality is to guarantee that the Internet is protected from predatory ISPs who have long sought to create “fast” and “slow” lanes for the distribution of data on the World Wide Web. And he is lying when he obfuscates the true nature of his objection to net neutrality: he is bought and paid for by several large ISPs, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and Viacom. Over the past year, Cruz has taken in tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from these companies, each of whom has a bottom-line financial interest in assuring net neutrality is never implemented.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote early in 2015 to finalize what are known as “open Internet rules,” and it is believed the FCC will recommend a content neutral Internet, the best solution to this complicated issue. While Republicans (and their ISP paymasters) will continue to bray that net neutrality will be a slap in face to the principles of the free market, Internet groups and companies such as Google, Netflix, and Amazon counter by noting the market is already dominated by a few behemoth cable and phone companies. To wit: 80% of Americans with access to high-speed broadband Internet connections have only one choice when it comes to choosing an ISP. Doesn’t sound so “free” when you consider all the facts, which a shill like Senator Cruz decides to willfully ignore.
The Internet is not free, despite what some may try to say. And a few telecommunication companies should not be allowed to decide who will pay what and at what speed data may travel. That way lies madness, and, eventually, a form of corporate censorship. Net neutrality is the only sane solution.