Our Take on Senator Ted Cruz’s Internet Event in Austin

Last week, Golden Frog co-founder and co-CEO Ron Yokubaitis participated in U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s, (R-Texas), press event at the Capital Factory in Austin, Texas regarding the future of the Internet. This event included the opportunity for Ron to speak with the Senator and members of his staff on several issues, including the Senator’s recent comments against Title II classification of the “last mile” – the link between the Internet and your home. To be clear, while we agree with much of Sen. Cruz’s Internet agenda, we don’t agree with his comments about Title II. We welcomed the opportunity to speak directly with the Senator, and expect to continue the conversation in the future.

Ron at Cruz Event

Speaking on stage before the Senator, Ron focused his remarks on Internet privacy issues. Ron urged Senator Cruz to help get the horribly outdated Electronic Communications and Privacy Act (ECPA) updated and reminded the audience the telecom and broadband ISPs are currently surveilling Internet traffic. Ron said, “the constitution won’t save you…you need to use encryption to defeat the surveillance state.”

He also applauded Texas’ efforts in protecting its citizens’ personal data. He said, “I liken Texas to being Switzerland inside the United States.”

Cruz Event

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz unveiled his “Don’t mess with the Internet” agenda in Austin, saying Congress shouldn’t permit the Obama administration to regulate the net like a public utility and that Congress should kill legislation that would tax online sales.

With respect to the Senator’s remarks on Title II, we believe that both Senator Cruz and President Obama have oversimplified the Open Internet issue. Neither differentiate between the “real” Internet and the “last mile.” The Internet, as defined by Wikipedia, “is a global system of interconnected computer networks linking several billion devices worldwide. It is an international network of networks consisting of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies.” This portion of the Internet has vibrant competition, it’s thriving. It does not need to be fixed or regulated.

Instead, it’s the last mile – the link between the Internet and your home – that is slow, expensive, and a threat to privacy and freedom. The last mile is not the Internet. The last mile is controlled by monopolistic companies that provide terrible customer service. It’s the last mile that we argue should be reclassified as Title II. This would give the FCC the authority to apply rules of common carriage so that providers would have a duty to serve all Internet packets without discrimination, or even go so far as to open it up to competition, drive innovation and ensure all content providers have the ability to compete.

After the press conference, Ron was invited to a future discussion with the Cruz staff to discuss Internet legislation. We are looking forward to the chance to continue the dialogue and thank Senator Cruz for the opportunity to participate in last week’s event.

View the video of the event and listen to Ron Yokubaitis speak.