OpEd: US Senator Ted Cruz Takes Aim At Net Neutrality, And Misses
Senator Ted Cruz compared Net Neutrality to Obamacare, he could hardly be further from the truth.
Art by: Jing Jin
Ted Cruz might still be considered a newbie to the United States Congress the splash that he has made in his short time there can only be considered a building tsunami. Cruz has been compared by several media personalities as the 21st Century version of anti-Communist crusader Joe McCarthy from the 1950’s and he led the charge to shut down the US government: Twice. But now the obstructionist Ted Cruz has a new target to focus on: Net Neutrality.
The importance of net neutrality cannot be overstressed. The paradigm states clearly that broadband providers must be kept at arm’s length from controlling which content is sent over their particular networks. The fear is that ISPs will be able to determine content by charging higher rates for some content providers than others, based on how much broadband that they require to operate, i.e. Larger web businesses will be able afford higher prices and remain in businesses while smaller websites, especially streaming sites, will essentially be priced out of the market.
Cruz however is a confusing person in many ways. He is most well-known for his opposition to President Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is better known. Cruz is apparently now confident that the ACA will be repealed after Republicans seized control of Congress on Tuesday and seems to have switched targets. The Senator said on Twitter:
'"Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government”.
Amanda Carpenter, spokesperson for Ted Cruz, said that the Senator felt that government support for net neutrality would in effect put government in charge of pricing, terms of service and what products could, or could not be delivered.
There are two important issues to consider though. Ted Cruz might be the main pilot of the Conservative clown car but the fact is that he has a lot of followers and other members of Congress certainly follow him, whether they admit it or not. The agenda that Cruz set when he first entered Congress, one of obstruction to anything proposed by President Obama, has been followed. Cruz is also reportedly considering both a fight for a leadership position in the Senate in January and the White House in 2016. In one report today Cruz is rumored to have captured the support of the Heritage Action, Club for Growth, and the Senate Conservative Fund, and he is already being backed by the Koch Brothers, so while he may not win the race for Majority Leader in the Senate, he is likely to be de facto leader.
But the other issue to consider is how much the Democratic leadership actually supports net neutrality. In every speech President Obama has made he has come out in support of net neutrality. But while speeches are nice, and he sure does talk pretty, his actions suggest otherwise. In 2013, despite massive protests, Obama appointed Tom Wheeler, a former telecom lobbyist, as the head of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Wheeler worked from 1979-1984 he was chief executive of the National Cable Television Association and from 1992 he worked as the head of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. Since his appointment he has been highly criticized for many of his decisions and while he has attempted to defend them his defenses seem weak at best.
Phillip Dampier, the founder of Stop the Cap! a consumer group that campaigns for better broadband service and unlimited usage told the New Yorker in May, 2013:
What is almost completely absent in most of Wheeler’s writings is the perspective of, or concern for ordinary consumers. What would Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average think about yet another consolidating merger between AT&T and one of its smaller competitors? What impact would another cable merger have on the bills paid by ordinary people in Colorado, Nebraska, or Pennsylvania?
Cointelegraph spoke with Nathan Wosnack, founder and COO of uBITquity, headquartered in Canada about Ted Cruz and his new target:
“Senator Ted Cruz, a person who took campaign lobbying money from Comcast and other telecommunications companies on K Street, one of the vocal opponents of "Net Neutrality" does not seem to understand what Net Neutrality is. Contrary to Senator Ted Cruz’ statements, it is not about putting the internet in the hands of the government, or allowing the government to tell users what they will pay for internet access. Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu's description of Net Neutrality is as follows: "that a public information network will end up being most useful if all content, sites, and platforms are treated equally.
“Net Neutrality issues can be solved through the community and private industry by self-regulation. It does not need the government to make this happen (i.e. “co-regulation”). Many prominent people, from Vint Cerf to Tim Berners-Lee, are strongly in favor of net neutrality in order to preserve current freedoms online.”
Net neutrality is also extremely important to the cryptocurrency industry because ISPs can easily be used to strangle smaller web businesses that accept Bitcoin as well as exchanges that trade in them. These businesses are often operating on a shoestring and increased rates would sound a death knell for many of them, and would certainly hamper their growth.