Last week, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas set off a firestorm of ridicule when he took to Twitter in an attempt to mock the concept of net neutrality:
“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, so stupid on so many levels that it isn’t worth debunking, is not just an isolated example of partisan idiocy. In recent weeks, Republican operatives have trotted out a steaming heap of similar malarkey in an effort to ward off a popular revolt against the cable industry, which wants to charge big companies such as Google or Netflix for faster internet service while slowing it down for the rest of us. Here are four other ludicrous conservative arguments for why the Federal Communications Commission shouldn’t prevent this from happening:
1. You’ll pay more taxes!
This is what happens if #NetNeutrality becomes reality: add $137 tax per smartphone http://t.co/G0sHriU2i4 #tcot pic.twitter.com/HadXrWqhUG
— AFP Arizona (@ArizonaAFP) November 17, 2014
The reality: To prevent broadband companies from discriminating against certain types of internet traffic, President Obama’s wants the FCC to regulate them as a public utilities. This is something it already does with telecommunications providers. While it’s true that the Communications Act subjects telecoms to a 16 percent service fee—which helps provide phone service to rural communities—this doesn’t mean broadband providers would automatically have to pay a similar tax.
2) Regulating the internet will stifle innovation and job creation.
The reality: The internet we know and love is already built on the concept of net neutrality. Obama’s proposed “regulation” would simply maintain the status quo by preventing monopolistic broadband providers from charging content providers tiered rates for different speeds of internet service. Far from stifling innovation, net neutrality encourages it by allowing startups to compete on the same footing as giants like Google and Facebook. That’s why it has overwhelming support among Silicon Valley’s “job creators.”
3) Letting big companies hog bandwidth will encourage cable companies to create more bandwidth
The reality: America ranks 31st in the world (behind Estonia) in its average download speeds. But that’s not because we’re preventing Comcast from cutting deals. Quite the opposite: Deregulation of the telecommunications industry has allowed Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner, and AT&T to divide up markets and put themselves in positions where they face no competition.
4) It’s all a secret plot to hype the risks of global warming
This claim made by Andy Kessler in a 2006 Weekly Standard story has been making the rounds recently on conservative blogs:
[T]he answer is not regulations promoting net neutrality. You can already smell the mandates and the loopholes once Congress gets involved. Think special, high-speed priority for campaign commercials or educational videos about global warming. Or roadblocks—like requiring emergency 911 service—to try to kill off free Internet telephone service such as Skype.
The reality: Regulating broadband providers as utilities does not give the FCC more authority to tell them how to treat specific types of content. In fact, preventing discrimination against certain types of content by ISPs is the whole point. That’s why net neutrality is popular with everyone from John Oliver to porn stars.