An Eloquent Nerd Goes Up Against A Corporate Suit To Debate An Unsexy Issue That's Really A Big Deal

The Nerd? Hank Green. The Suit? Hank Green. The topic? Net neutrality. WAIT! Don't roll your eyes and click away. You don't even want to know about one of the most important things ever? I'm begging you to hit play and learn some stuff. Please? It's only freedom of information that's at stake.

You can leave a comment for the FCC here. I'll owe you one.

Transcript:
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0:00

Good morning, John. Today we're going to be doing something a little bit different. I'm

0:02

gonna be holding a debate here in my house around the topic of net neutrality, featuring

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me, an internet user and me, representing a cable company, on opposite sides of the

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table, literally.

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Internet User Hank: First things first, for the viewers at home I think we should just

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define what net neutrality is.

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Cable Company Hank: Sounds like a fine place to begin.

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IUH: So net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers should provide access to

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all of the internet at the same speed: no matter what content it is, no one gets any

0:27

preference.

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CCH: Fair definition; the question is: is that a good idea? Like why should I, an internet

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service provider, have to provide Game of Thrones via BitTorrent at the same speed as

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I provide it through HBO Go?

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IUH: I don't know, cause you're not a law enforcement agency and that's not your job,

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but like, you shouldn't be determining how your users use your service. It's the internet;

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you just provide access to it and, but like, my concern is that if you do it to BitTorrent

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that you'll do it to, like, a legitimate competitor to your business, like Netflix for example.

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CCH: No one is talking about doing that.

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IUH: I mean, you say that, but yeah they are. Like Comcast literally slowed down Netflix's

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internet connection and forced them to pay to get faster access to their customers; like

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it happened already.

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CCH: Netflix is responsible for over 30% of the bandwidth use of the US. Why should all

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of our customers, regardless of whether they use Netflix, be required to pay for the massive

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infrastructure upgrades necessary to provide that service. Of course Netflix should pay.

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But, we're not talking about slowing down Netflix to make them pay. We're just saying

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we're going to speed Netflix up if they do pay.

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IUH: I mean if you sped Netflix up without adding any new bandwidth, wouldn't you definitionally

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slow someone else down in order to speed Netflix up? You are, right now, for the first time

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in American history, making the internet a non-level playing field. You talk high and

1:45

mighty about economic efficiency, but what creates great economies is not profit; it's

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competition, which is what you're trying to destroy.

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CCH: I mean, the internet's a mature industry now; we can't keep running around like it's

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1998 hippie-fun-feel-good times. It's time to buckle down and turn this thing into a

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real economic engine. We want to charge customers for access to content and charge content companies

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for access to the customers. We get paid twice, it's great for us!

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IUH: The internet is not your business model. The internet is a massive, technological,

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and economic, and cultural force for good that everyone should have equal access to,

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and your place as a middle-man does not bequeath you magical powers to extract value at every

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turn! You have no right to decide what information goes at what speed through your pipes.

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CCH: I mean, don't we though? We're already doing it with Netflix; we kind of already

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set the precedent. Let's face it, this is a complicated legal thing, and with the potential

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upside for us, we can afford a lot of lawyers and lobbyists. No offense, but I don't think

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you can play on our level.

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IUH: I guess we'll see. John, I'll see you on Tuesday.

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Hi. I'm a little bit worried about this. I want the internet to remain open and neutral

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in America... for selfish and also altruistic reasons. You can help. And please do; the

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FCC is currently asking for comments. Please go to comment at the FCC's website, there's

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a link in the description. Tell them to classify broadband internet as a common carrier service,

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which will prevent telecoms from making the internet a closed, non-neutral place. If you

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want to help in more long-term ways, in the description there are a few organizations

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that are working on these issues, actually hiring lawyers and lobbyists to compete with

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the telecoms. You can give them money; you can give them your time; you can give them

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your action, and you can call your congress people. I love the internet a lot and I bet

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that you do too, and I am worried what's gonna happen if we let the middlemen decide what

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the internet is like. Frankly, I don't trust 'em.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

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