Senator Al Franken

Sen. Franken Calls Net Neutrality The “Free Speech Issue Of Our Time”

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In a video posted to the website NoSlowLane, Senator Al Franken made the argument for pure net neutrality, calling the principle “the free speech issue of our time.”

Citing YouTube in its infancy as precisely the sort of company that benefited from an open Internet that was not tiltable by incumbent powers with a financial advantage, the senator’s argument is simple: the Internet works, and changing it is a darn fool idea.

Is net neutrality in fact the “free speech issue of our time?” In a very material way yes, because it is now the key platform for all speech that might be controversial. So it’s the conduit for nearly all future speech, be that content divisive or not.

Ask yourself the following: How long into the future will you simply have a single pipe into your home for all information? Tongue-out-of-cheek, the Internetization of all content makes the issue of net neutrality more relevant, not less. If we allow for boundaries to be set up — and yes, a faster lane for richer companies is a material barrier to new firms that don’t have the cash; the advantage to one is the obstacle to the other — we endanger all future content, from TV on down, because it will flow over the same cables.

The FCC’s current plans to allow for “fast lanes” for sponsored content is not a good idea, and it’s quite nice to see a senator not only understand the issue in the short-term, but also its potential lasting detriment to free speech and innovation.

Here’s the clip:

Photo: AP