Sen. Cruz: ‘Broadband Is Critically Important for Enabling People to Access the World’
Participates in Q&A, discusses rural broadband, net neutrality, 5G nationalization, and hearing on Facebook
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today participated in a Q&A moderated by Thomas A. Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, at Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide With Next-Gen Connectivity, the first event in Charter Communication's "Think Forward" series. During the Q&A Senator Cruz discussed expanding rural broadband, net neutrality, 5G nationalization, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees joint hearing.
Watch Sen. Cruz's full remarks here.
When asked by Schatz about the importance of high speed broadband access for the state of Texas, and in particular rural areas, Sen. Cruz discussed the tremendous role the internet has played in expanding opportunity for all Americans.
"I think broadband is critically important for enabling people to access the world," Sen. Cruz said. "The internet has been an extraordinary oasis of freedom. The internet grew up largely free from government regulation. [...] And like any asset in our economy, the distribution is not immediate and instantaneous. We are seeing it focus initially where it has the highest concentration of people. In a state like Texas, that has many rural communities, and across the country there are a lot of rural communities, we need to see greater penetration of broadband, because it expands opportunities. It expands the ability of small businesses to be created; it expands the ability of someone out in the middle of West Texas with tumbleweeds blowing by, to connect with a world famous heart surgeon on the other side of the country. To connect with anyone in the world, and that opens up all sorts of new potential."
When asked about the role of government in expanding broadband access, Sen. Cruz argued that the private sector is better equipped to develop and deploy capital, and that the government should work to remove federal regulatory barriers.
"The way to encourage the development of broadband is not to have Washington, D.C. doling out the numbers and doling out the money, where you can ensure it'll be spent on almost everything except what ostensibly we're being told it's going to be spent on. But rather, we should be removing regulatory barriers, to make it easier for the private sector to deploy capital to meet those needs."
Sen. Cruz also discussed the dangers of net neutrality to a free and open internet, and how the FCC had no authority to regulate the internet as a Title II utility before 2015.
"Net neutrality was a spectacularly bad idea and at the time a phrase I used was that net neutrality was Obamacare for the internet," Sen. Cruz said. "The internet grew up with no rules governing so called ‘net neutrality.' In 2015, the Obama FCC in what I believe what was a blatantly illegal power grab, regulated the internet as a Title II public utility. That's under legislation adopted in the 1930s to regulate big rotary phone companies. Technology that has virtually nothing to do with the internet, as we know it today. They did so in the name of ensuring net neutrality [...] but the consequence of regulating the internet as net neutrality is the FCC was asserting its authority to regulate prices and terms of services on the internet. Which is essentially everything and anything you offer on the internet. If you want to kill the internet, it is difficult to come up with a more effective way to do than putting Washington in charge of regulating prices and terms of service."
When asked about his exchange with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the Senate hearing, Sen. Cruz discussed the concerns many Americans share about Facebook's political bias and censorship.
"I think it was very troubling. There were a lot of issues brought up. There are a lot of issues that are concerning. Zuckerberg and I had an exchange about online censorship yesterday. I will say, the power that is being accumulated in Silicon Valley, of giant tech companies controlling the vast majority of communication- the vast majority of political discourse is staggering and it's dangerous. [...] And what's particularly dangerous - what I walked through with Zuckerberg yesterday - was the pattern of Facebook, and for that matter Twitter, and for that matter Google, and a number of the other tech companies that seem to be populated almost entirely by people on the hard, political left. Abusing their power to number one silence voices they disagree with and number two do it secretly and surreptitiously."