John Oliver isn’t neutral on net neutrality

  • By Meredith Blake Los Angeles Times
  • Friday, June 6, 2014 12:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

NEW YORK — John Oliver knows you’re probably not that angry about net neutrality, and he’d like to change that.

Oliver used the bully pulpit of his HBO series “Last Week Tonight” to rail against telecommunications giants like Verizon and Comcast who are lobbying to put an end to net neutrality. The comedian admitted that the issue is not, at least on the surface, a very sexy one. As he joked, “The only two words that promise more boredom in the English language are ‘featuring Sting.’”

Despite it being about as exciting as a pair of Dockers, Oliver argued Sunday night that net neutrality is “hugely important” because “it means that all data has to be treated equally no matter who created it.” If deep-pocketed telecom companies get their way, a new tiered system would be imposed that would allow them to “buy their way into the fast lane, leaving everyone else in the slow lane.”

As a cautionary tale, he shared a graph of Netflix’s download speeds during recent negotiations with Comcast. The speed surged in February, when Netflix agreed to Comcast’s demands. “That has all the ingredients of a mob shakedown,” Oliver said.

He steered the nation’s anonymous Internet commenters toward a website created by the FCC (fcc.gov/comments) for the public to provide feedback on the proposed changes. “We need you to get out there and focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction,” he said. “Seize your moment, my lovely trolls.”

On Monday the FCC tweeted that the commenting system was “experiencing technical difficulties” due to heavy traffic. The cause for the spike in clicks could not be confirmed, but Oliver would have been pleased nonetheless. The effort to end net neutrality is so “egregious” that it’s led to an unlikely alliance between “anti-corporate hippies” and tech behemoths Google, Facebook and Amazon.

The real problem, Oliver continued, is that telecom companies “have Washington in their pockets to an almost unbelievable degree.”

Case in point, Oliver said: President Barack Obama’s appointment of former cable industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler as chair of the Federal Communications Commission.

“The guy who used to run the cable industry’s lobbying arm is now running the agency tasked with regulating it,” Oliver said. “That is the equivalent of needing a baby-sitter and hiring a dingo.”

Likening cable companies to drug cartels, Oliver was skeptical of claims that they will continue to honor net neutrality. “Let me remind you: They also say they’ll be at your house between 2 and 6 tomorrow afternoon.”

Nothing but net

Watch John Oliver’s segment on net neutrality at tinyurl.com/JOliverNN.

—-

&Copy;2014 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

More in Life

‘Found’: Author and climber a 20-year veteran of mountain rescue

In her second book, Bree Loewen shares her experiences of volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue.

Secret garden: Privacy trees that won’t outgrow a small space

These plants offer some height to block out unwanted sights without taking over your yard.

Stock your winter bookshelf with these animal and nature reads

Four new books cover outdoors topics from butterflies to wolves.

The Shed Players recently released their new album “Our Shingle Most Favorites.”
Listen here: Josh Clauson, The Shed Players release new CDs

This feature is all about Snohomish County’s homegrown talent: locals who make music and record it.

Newfangled cooker isn’t for those with tried and true methods

Columnist Jennifer Bardsley recently succumbed to peer pressure and purchased an Instant Pot.

Now is the time to assess your student’s back-to-school plan

Take a good look at how your kids are managing their new routine, class, teacher(s) and homework.

Author’s talk of birds and clouds kicks off Marysville series

1. Birds and clouds Marysville’s Outdoor Adventure Speakers Series is kicking into… Continue reading

How to shop in the street markets of France

It’s the best way to connect with the nation’s farmers and artisans.

Oprah Winfrey joins ‘60 Minutes’ for 50th anniversary year

The media giant debuts on tonight’s show, reporting on a story about America’s political divisions.

Most Read