Paul skeptical of banning Internet 'fast lanes'

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulDefense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Senate confirms two Treasury nominees over Democratic objections Liz Cheney calls for 'proportional military response' against Iran MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday took aim at the Federal Communications Commission's plan for net neutrality, expressing skepticism about the push to ban Internet "fast lanes."

Paul, a likely presidential candidate in 2016, says he is determined to "try to keep government out of the Internet,” and questioned whether the government should be banning deals that speed up and slow down Web service.

"I'm not ever sure it is good in the sense that it stops paid prioritization" for Web traffic, Paul said Wednesday at the "Reboot Congress" conference put on by the conservative Lincoln Labs.

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The FCC is voting later this month on a plan to reclassify broadband Internet to ban Internet service providers from blocking or slowing traffic from websites. The new rules are also meant to ban the “fast lane” deals, in which Internet service providers negotiate deals with some websites or applications willing to pay for faster access.

"So this is an economic fact that bulk supply, bulk contracts, get different prices," Paul said. "The interesting thing, though, is without any regulation for 20 years of the Internet, with all the fear that there might be some bulk pricing — I think there is very little evidence that it exists."

During the talk, Paul also expressed skepticism of bitcoin, saying the virtual currency needs to have real value.

Still, Paul said he is excited about the possibility that virtual currency could potentially be a substitution for credit cards. If a number of big box retailers, like Walmart, could put their stock behind it, Paul said he would be interested in investing. In that case, he said, the currency could do to credit cards what Netflix did to blockbuster.

Paul’s appearance at the tech policy conference started off with questions about his position on vaccines, for which he took flak in the last few months. He clarified again that he did not say there was a connection between vaccines and autism, only that some parents see the connection.

Michael Arrington, the founder of Tech Crunch and moderator of the talk, approached the question with hesitancy, saying he didn't want to upset the senator early in the interview.

"You don't want to be shushed, do you," Paul joked, referring back to a contentious CNBC interview in which he shushed the interviewer.