Speed Reads

Net neutrality

Here's the conservative case against net neutrality

On Monday, President Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify the internet as a public utility, finally allowing the FCC to enforce principles of net neutrality — the idea that all traffic on the internet must be given equal treatment.

Republicans aren't happy with the plan to treat internet service providers (ISPs) as regulated telecoms — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said it would "destroy innovation and entrepreneurship," and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called net neutrality "ObamaCare for the internet," because it "puts the government in charge of determining internet pricing, terms of service, and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities, and higher prices for consumers." Cruz got flak and unsolicited fact-checking from across the political spectrum.

The problem for conservatives is that the idea of a level playing field for the internet is wildly popular, even among conservatives and Republicans (depending on how you frame the question). Net neutrality proponents have already laid out their case in a series of entertaining and accessible videos, most memorably John Oliver's explanation on Last Week Tonight. Conservatives are starting to push back with video explainers of their own, like this one from establishment Tea Party organization FreedomWorks:

The short version of FreedomWork's pitch: Net neutrality "protects the internet's biggest companies" like Google and Netflix — which, unlike ISPs, back net neutrality — while hurting small content providers like a "high school blog." Time notes that the nation's largest ISP, Comcast, is spending more on lobbying (both parties) than any company except defense contractor Northrop Grumman; $107,775 of Comcast's money has gone to Boehner, more than twice the contribution to any other member of Congress.