If you are a regular reader of TechCrunch, then you are probably up to speed on the issue of net neutrality. If you aren’t, however, SHAME ON YOU. Just kidding. As HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” host (and two-time Crunchies emcee) John Oliver said in a rousing call to action last night, “cable companies have figured out the great truth of America: if you want to do something evil, put it in something boring.”
Part of the problem is the term net neutrality itself and any government hearing on the issue.
“The only two words that promise more boredom in the English language are ‘featuring Sting,'” said Oliver. “I would rather read a book by Thomas Friedman than listen to that hearing. I would rather listen to a pair of Dockers tell me about the weird dream it had.”
But, Oliver pointed out, despite its snore-inducing name, net neutrality is “actually hugely important. Essentially it means that all data has to be treated equally no matter who created it. It’s why the Internet is a weirdly level playing field and startups can supplant established brands.” Ending net neutrality by creating a two-tier system “would allow big companies to buy their way into the fast lane, leaving everyone in the slow lane.”
Other factoids from the segment:
- A reminder of Comcast’s negotiations with Netflix and how it slowed down the streaming video platform’s speed.
- How the fight against net neutrality means “activists and corporations have been forced into the same side.”
- Comcast spent $18,810,000 in lobbying last year, more than any other company but defense company Northrop Grumman.
- President Barack Obama’s close relationship with CEO of Comcast.
- Obama’s decision to appoint Tom Wheeler, a former top lobbyist for cable and wireless companies, to be the chair of the FCC (a move Oliver likens to “the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.”)
- A Federal study that showed 96% of population has access to two or fewer cable broadband providers.
- Americans pay more for Internet service than almost any other country on earth and yet download speeds lag behind Estonia.
What does Oliver want Americans to do in order to “prevent cable company fuckery?” Hint: it involves leaving a comment at fcc.gov/comments