Al Franken Explains Why Ted Cruz Doesn’t Understand The Internet


Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on CNN's State of the Union

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who won re-election by more than 10 points this month, took aim on Sunday at claims by his colleague, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), that preserving net neutrality would “stifle freedom, entrepreneurship and creativity online.”

On CNN’s State of the Union, he explained to Candy 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 noted that Google had created a video system years ago called “Google Video,” but three entrepreneurs in a pizzeria had devised a better video delivery system called “YouTube.” Because YouTube and Google Video had equal access to Internet bandwidth, he observed, the better product became more popular and Google ultimately paid $1.65 billion dollars to acquire YouTube.

Asked by Crowley about Cruz’s Washington Post op-ed in which the Texas Republican claimed “regulating the Internet threatens entrepreneurial freedom,” much like he believes the Affordable Care Act is “strangling our health-care” industry, Franken quickly and forcefully countered the argument.

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.

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President Obama has urged the FCC to protect net neutrality when drawing up new regulations.