Let's all agree on one thing: The Federal Communications Commission passing the strongest net neutrality rules in America's history is a step in the right direction. But that didn't stop an army of naysayers from crowing about an imaginary government takeover of the internet or how the new plan would slash their profits. Some chose half-intelligent ways to make those arguments. Others did some pretty dumb stuff.
Here are some of our favourite crazy statements from America's most concerned leaders.
Might as well start with the dumbest reaction. Verizon, the peddlers of broken fibre optic dreams, doesn't like the FCC's plan one bit, and the multibillion-dollar company's army of flacks are being real dipshits about it. Immediately after the vote, Verizon issued a press release drafted in smudged typewriter text and dated February 26, 1934. It's pretty rude:
Verizon published the same press release on its corporate blogs. But in lieu of the vintage font, the company posted the release in Morse code.
The 1930s line refers to the classic but fatally flawed criticism of the FCC's reclassifying the internet under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934. Indeed, Congress passed the bill in 1934 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law. However, the legislation was then overhauled in 1996, and the new rules explicitly give the FCC the right to forbear any part of the law that aren't relevant to regulating the internet. Also, Morse code is awesome, so your isn't funny, Verizon.
Surprise! Comcast doesn't like the FCC's new net neutrality rules either. This is the same company that has a stranglehold on one out of every three internet users in America who have no other choice of provider, so no surprise there. The company has been famously coy about claiming to love net neutrality but refusing to support the policy that would protect it. Here's that line again from Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen, saying the company embraces the rules and then immediately mocking them, along with another cute 1930s reference:
We fully embrace the open Internet principles that have been laid out by President Obama and Chairman Wheeler and that now have been adopted by the FCC. We just don't believe statutory provisions designed for the telephone industry and adopted when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president should be stretched to govern the 21st century Internet.
Double surprise! AT&T doesn't like the rules either. The company's Jim Cicconi got a little wispy in his response:
Perhaps I'm betraying my years, but in Washington policy circles there has always been tension between those interested in solving problems and those who see policy disputes as a test of ideology. I'd readily admit falling into the former camp, and have the policy scars to prove it.
Words words words. This part's just silly, though:
Does anyone really think Washington needs yet another partisan fight? Particularly a fight around the Internet, one of the greatest engines of economic growth, investment, and innovation in history?
Actually, yes, we should fight for the future of the internet. And yes, we should do it in Washington.
Rep. Ted Cruz
Ted's at it again. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the Tea Party politician recited his anti-Obama speech:
Washington wants Obamacare. The people want liberty. Washington wants amnesty. The people want rule of law. Washington wants power over the internet. The people want freedom online. And don't believe President Obama when he says, 'If you like your internet, you can keep your internet'!
By the way this guy is one of the top recipients of campaign donations from big cable companies. He's also now in charge of NASA.
Rep. Darrell Issa
Here's another guy with misguided ideas who's in a frighteningly powerful position. Darrell Issa is the chairman of the House the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. The Republican thinks that the FCC's new net neutrality rules will ruin the internet. Which is funny because big tech companies like Apple and Google support net neutrality. Issa said in a statement:
Competition in private industry drives prices down. Government regulation ensures a lack of innovation.
Hmm, I dunno, seems like my internet bills have been going up, but I can't switch to a cheaper provider because I only have one choice. Seems like we could innovate on that situation a bit.
Random Think Tank Guy
And then there's Berin Szoka, the president of an all-male think tank called TechFreedom, who swoops in with the punchline:
Maybe it's finally time to start dismantling the FCC?
Just burn it all down.