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Netflix should tell its users to support net neutrality, Senator Chuck Schumer says

On the latest Recode Decode, Schumer says he wants Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on his side.

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
Asa Mathat

With the help of Republican Sen. Susan Collins, the 49 Democrats in the U.S. Senate just need one more vote to mount a pushback to the FCC’s 2017 decision to repeal net neutrality.

And the Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, says Netflix can help get that senator on board.

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Schumer said he’s trying to enlist tech companies of all sizes to get out the net neutrality vote. He’s been making calls to friends like Union Square Ventures venture capitalist Fred Wilson and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to see what they can do.

“I put in a call to someone I know, Reed Hastings,” Schumer told Swisher and her guest co-host, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. “You know, Netflix users will pay a lot more money if this happens and they might get slower service too. So I’d love Netflix, anytime you subscribe, to just have a little chyron there and say ‘Write your senator! Don’t be charged more for your movies!’”

He quoted Wilson as having said that startups are “petrified” of being crushed because internet service providers give more favorable rates to wealthier, established companies.

“I really resent these ISPs,” Schumer said. “I talked to them — they came in and made the case. I felt more strongly for net neutrality after they came in than before. Because it’s clear they want to maximize their profits by squeezing people who don’t have much power and acceding to people who do.”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Sen. Schumer likened the prospective fight to restore net neutrality to the campaigns that defeated the copyright bill SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, in 2011 and PIPA, the PROTECT IP Act, later that year.

“I remember SOPA and PIPA,” he said. “We had millions of people emailing and protesting and we succeeded in beating it. We can do the same thing here.”

However, Schumer said he does not consider himself a techie, even though he’s very interested in several issues surrounding the tech industry, such as immigration, net neutrality and rural broadband access. In the halls of the Capitol, he’s become known over the past decade as one of the holdouts who still uses a flip phone, not a smartphone — a choice originally made out of fears that the iPhone would be hacked, he recalled.

“I don’t do texting,” Schumer said. “I get emails on my iPad, but I don’t text. I don’t even know how to do it. I’m backward that way. But Putin’s not listening in to me, Kara!”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

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