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Ted Cruz fires back at Al Franken with net neutrality explainer

Franken: Ted Cruz is 'completely wrong'
Franken: Ted Cruz is 'completely wrong'

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Franken: Ted Cruz is 'completely wrong' 01:48

Story highlights

  • Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas uploads video of his take on net neutrality
  • He uses a landline phone to illustrate his belief that the government stifles innovation
  • Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota had said Cruz didn't understand the issue
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, hit back at Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, Monday for his comments that Cruz doesn't know what he is talking about when it comes to net neutrality.
Cruz used a video that he uploaded to YouTube and social media that shows the senator explaining what net neutrality is and how it works.
"What happens when government starts regulating a service as a public utility? It calcifies everything. It freezes it in place," Cruz says, in a clip from a speech he delivered Friday in Texas.
"Let's give a simple contrast. The Telecommunications Act of 1934 was adopted to regulate these," Cruz says holding up a landline phone. "To put regulations in place and what happened? It froze everything in place. This (Cruz puts his hand on the landline phone) is regulated by Title II. This (Cruz holds up a cell phone) is not."
"Your smartphone, the Internet, the apps -- all of this is outside of Title II," Cruz continues. "The innovation is happening without having to go to government regulators and say, 'Mother, may I?' We want a whole lot more of this (Cruz holds up a cell phone) and a whole lot less of this (Cruz points at the landline phone)."
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The Cruz explainer video is titled "How net neutrality hurts the internet explained." It was circulated in response to Franken's suggestion on Sunday that Cruz doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to net neutrality.
Franken, who chairs the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, said Cruz's previously stated analogy that net neutrality is like "Obamacare for the Internet" makes no sense.
"He has it completely wrong and he just doesn't understand what this issue is," Franken told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday.
At issue are proposed "fast lanes," or opportunities for big companies to pay Internet providers more money to make their websites operate at a quicker speed.
But opponents, including President Barack Obama, favor keeping things equal -- also known as net neutrality -- so that wealthier businesses don't have an advantage over smaller ones when it comes to paying for faster websites.
"Obamacare was a government program that fixed something, that changed things," Franken said. "This is about reclassifying something so it stays the same. This would keep things exactly the same that they've been."
To prevent "fast lanes," Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to implement more regulations -- something Republicans don't want.
Cruz said last week on Facebook that net neutrality is "the biggest regulatory threat to the Internet."
"In short, net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet," he continued. "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."
Responding to Franken's comments, Cruz's communications director said Monday that "allowing the government to regulate the Internet as a public utility would freeze innovation and prevent progress."
"It's radical and extreme to put the future of the Internet in the hands of a five-member FCC panel influenced by lobbyists and politicians and unaccountable to regular, working Americans," Amanda Carpenter said, while also pointing to a recent speech by Cruz about net neutrality.