Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., used a Sunday appearance on CNN's “State of the Union” to dispute claims adopting U.S. President Obama's plan for net neutrality would hobble the Internet. He took aim specifically at Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who last week warned classifying broadband service as a public utility would be like creating “Obamacare for the Internet.”
“He has it completely wrong and he just doesn't know what the issue is,” Franken said. “We have had net neutrality for the entire history of the Internet, so when he says this is 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 as they've been.”
In a surprise announcement last week Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to adapt regulations laid out under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 originally designed to regulate the phone monopoly for today's telecommunications providers. Doing so would prevent major telecoms like Verizon and Comcast from enacting paid prioritization, the concept of charging content providers (Google, Netflix and the like) more to broadcast an Internet signal that's more expensive for the Internet service providers to send out. Obama's involvement in the debate, which provided a huge boost to the so-called open Internet movement, has galvanized Republican lawmakers like Cruz, who have asserted reclassifying broadband would stifle innovation online.
“That's baloney,” Franken said Sunday before adding Google, Facebook and some of the most influential American companies have persevered under the current system. “They've been doing this all along. They've been doing this since the beginning of the Internet.”