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Cable Companies Use Astroturfing To Fight Net Neutrality 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-can't-trust-huge-corporations-who-can-you-trust dept.
An anonymous reader sends a report from Vice which alleges that a trade group for internet service providers is building support for its crusade against net neutrality by funding opinion pieces and letters that masquerade as legitimate public sentiment. 'A disclosure obtained by VICE from the National Cable and Telecom Association (NCTA), a trade group for ISPs, shows that the bulk of Broadband for America's recent $3.5 million budget is funded through a $2 million donation from NCTA. Last month, Broadband for America wrote a letter to the FCC bluntly demanding that the agency "categorically reject" any effort toward designating broadband as a public utility. It wasn't signed by any internet consumer advocates, as the Sununu-Ford letter suggests. The signatures on the letter reads like a who's who of ISP industry presidents and CEOs, including AT&T's Randall Stephenson, Cox Communications' Patrick Esser, NCTA president (and former FCC commissioner) Michael Powell, Verizon's Lowell McAdam, and Comcast's Brian Roberts. Notably, Broadband for America's most recent tax filing shows that it retained the DCI Group, an infamous lobbying firm that specializes in creating fake citizen groups on behalf of corporate campaigns.'
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Cable Companies Use Astroturfing To Fight Net Neutrality

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  • Money in Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:01AM (#47178575)
    A classic case of corporate interests spending lavishly to buy influence on issues where their interests run counter to those of the public at large. Who was the tool here last week who insisted that this was not a problem?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2014 @10:07AM (#47179075)

      What I don't understand is that when a company lies on its ads, it gets fined, but when it lies via other means, nothing gets done, and it's even considered free speech by some. Why? It's all the same to me. There should be no free speech for companies.

      • What I don't understand is that when a company lies on its ads, it gets fined, but when it lies via other means, nothing gets done, and it's even considered free speech by some. Why? It's all the same to me. There should be no free speech for companies.

        They get away with it because individual citizens are not held accountable for lies. Lobby and activist groups on both sides of issues can pretty much send out any message they want, and both are guilty of misleading.

        But that's not the real problem. The real problem is many individuals that just believe which-ever group they initially feel comfortable with, and don't think critically, get the facts, and decide for themselves. Everyone thinks they are an expert, but they can only repeat headlines. As long

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Exactly. All official speech by a company is business. It should always be illegal for any party to be intentionally deceitful in business.

      • There should be no free speech for companies.

        There is no free speech "right" for companies. Companies don't have rights.

        When SCOTUS recently ruled, in effect, that corporations have a right to free speech, it seemingly (and very bizarrely) seemed to ignore the fact that government already regulates corporate speech about 100 different ways.

        It also meant, in effect, that money = speech. An obvious corollary to that is: some people are more "equal" than others.

        In my opinion this was the worst Supreme Court decision in living memory, and a futur

    • A classic case of corporate interests spending lavishly to buy influence on issues where their interests run counter to those of the public at large. Who was the tool here last week who insisted that this was not a problem?

      But who (other than Congress) would actually believe such a thing is "public sentiment"? The very idea is ridiculous. Nobody in their right mind (that is to say, nobody but Congress) would believe this garbage.

  • They all do this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rabbin (2700077) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:09AM (#47178621)
    PR in the US is often just propaganda. It is another avenue through which wealth can be used to exert undue influence over policy by shaping public opinion, deceiving, astroturfing, etc etc. It is justified under Free Speech, but there is no concern for equality: if you have more money, your voice (or the people you pay to spread "your voice") is much more likely affect change. In my opinion, this is wrong.

    I recommend reading the book Deadly Spin by Wendell Potter which shows just how insidious this practice is. The author used to be a top PR executive at several insurance companies but "found his conscience" and is speaking out against it.
    • Re:They all do this (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bev_tech_rob (313485) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:20AM (#47178677)
      Astroturfing should be outlawed as a form of fraud IMO...
    • Re:They all do this (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kilfarsnar (561956) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:34AM (#47178787)
      With all the bullshit they are surrounded by, is it any wonder the American people make such poor choices? Whenever someone blames the voters for the state of the union, this is the stuff I think of.
    • Re:They all do this (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stenvar (2789879) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:35AM (#47178797)

      It is justified under Free Speech, but there is no concern for equality: if you have more money, your voice (or the people you pay to spread "your voice") is much more likely affect change. In my opinion, this is wrong.

      Who gets to decide then which speech is proper and which speech isn't proper? Should we have a "ministry of truth" that determines "for the people" what speech is astroturfing and what speech is not? Should churches and unions be allowed to spend money to speak nationally on political, moral, or financial matters? Should newspapers and media companies, being wealthy corporations themselves, be allowed to engage in political speech? What about citizens grouping together, pooling their money, and then using the pooled money to speak? What organizational form should that take, if not a corporation (usually not-for-profit)?

      I certainly do not want a political system in which only a few kinds of organizations (media companies, churches, unions?) have the right to engage in large scale political speech while everybody else merely has the right to vent in forums, if that. People like you complain a lot, but you don't have a good answer.

      • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:56AM (#47178983)

        Perhaps just mandate disclosure of major financial supporters? Speak all you want, but be required to have 'this campaign funded by' in small print at the bottom of the advert.

      • Here's one that's easy: outright lying. Unless you're arguing that fraud shouldn't be illegal, because it's just an expression of free speech. Astroturfing is a form of fraud: you're trying to present views as coming from someone else. If the cable companies want to say 'net neutrality is bad because it will cost us money', then that's fine. If they lie and pretend to be a consumer group, then that's not.
        • Re:They all do this (Score:5, Informative)

          by stenvar (2789879) on Friday June 06, 2014 @10:18AM (#47179169)

          Here's one that's easy: outright lying. Unless you're arguing that fraud shouldn't be illegal, because it's just an expression of free speech. Astroturfing is a form of fraud: you're trying to present views as coming from someone else.

          Broadband for America is quite clear about who their backers are: http://www.broadbandforamerica... [broadbandforamerica.com] And they didn't present themselves as a grassroots organization, SFGate (Hearst Corporation) did.

          But the trouble with demanding truth in free speech is that somebody needs to determine what "truth" is. Either the executive or the courts have to adjudicate. Who do you think will be at the receiving end of determinations of untruth? What do you think the government position would have been on the truth of such statements like "Blacks and whites are equally capable", "Women and men are equally capable", or "Homosexuality is not a disease"? It's minority views that benefit most from being able to speak up against the majority opinion; tolerating lies and deception is the price we pay for that.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          Fraud is not illegal unless it directly taks advantage of someone in an illegal way.

          I have no problem with ISPs selling fast lanes if they do nothing to hamper speeds below thst in which their customers purchase. To me, as long as my connection's up to limit or any traffic from or destined to my network is delivered in good faith, i could care less if netflix or google or whatever pays for something to reach me faster than the speeds i purchased. The problem happens when the ISP ssells me 8 meg speeds and l

          • Fast lane? Do you know how QoS works? The only way possible is, when you have a congestion, which packets will you drop? If you have "fast lanes", you drop all the other traffic, except the one in classified as " fast lane". Actually, this term is deceptive. The car metaphor doesn't apply. There is no "lanes" in data communication. There are only queues, and space for one packet at a time to flow. If there's space for all packets, no problem! But when there is a congestion (and we have it all the time) pri
            • by sumdumass (711423)

              lol.. I guess they cannot use QOS then. I mean it is simple really. I said as long as they do not hamper my communications. So their fast lanes have to be speeds in excess of everyone else' and in addition to everyone else. QOS may be part of the final solution, but if it matches what I said, then it will only be to manage packets at speeds above the connection I purchased.

              Here is more to what I don't have a problem with. They sell internet as normal, Netflix and Google pay for the fast lane, they install a

              • Well, that's not possible too. You see, they regularly sell more bandwidth or connectivity than they have. With Net neutrality when Internet bandwidth becomes overused, all customers' service tends to be degraded equally without failing completely. But if you are implying that they can only sell "fast lanes" if they are forbidden to overselling net capacity, then it's all right I guess. But that will not happen, ever. At least not in the real world.
                • by sumdumass (711423)

                  lol.. The devil is in the details I guess but yes, that is what I am saying. If they can sell services where the fast lane does not degrade it, then I do not have a problem with it. If I decide to save money and buy a slower service and Netflix decides to up the speed for my connection when I'm connected to Netflix, that is alright by me.

                  The bottom line is that if they reserve capacity for the fast lanes, it better be capacity above what they sold to you and me. Otherwise, I believe it to be consumer fraud

          • The problem I have with the "fast lanes" are that most ISPs are monopolies or duopolies in their areas. They already have little incentive to innovate. After all, what are you going to do? Go without Internet? Of course not, so keep those monthly checks coming for as much as the ISPs demand.

            Given the monopoly/duopoly fact, what is preventing ISPs from turning "fast lane/faster lane" into "slow, congested lane/fast, big money lane"? What's preventing them from ignoring any speed increases to the normal

          • What happens when they only upgrade the "fast lanes"? Imagine if they had gotten this ability 20 years ago. We'd have plentiful and cheap access to "normal lane" Dial up.... Oh, and the Fast Lanes of cable or DSL.

            Then there's the other problems with your post. Assuming Google or Netflix DID pay for "faster" access, do you really think they'd deliver it to you faster than the connection you payed for? Why on earth would they do that? You have to pay to upgrade.....

            I think you don't know this issue very

      • by dave420 (699308)
        It's really quite easy - ban money from politics. No politician can ever earn money privately. They have to declare their worth before they become politicians, and can not leave with anything more than the accumulated wages they earned during their life in office. All subsequent earnings are subject to investigation should conflicts of interest be alleged. The media has to actually engage in journalism and cover issues with the minimum possible level of bias - any failures result in censure or worse. T
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by stenvar (2789879)

          It's really quite easy - ban money from politics. No politician can ever earn money privately.

          We live in a representative democracy. Why would I want people like that representing me?

          The media has to actually engage in journalism and cover issues with the minimum possible level of bias - any failures result in censure or worse

          I think you have just perfectly characterized how the Soviet Union worked.

          The world weeps for the US - other developed countries have their issues with their political systems, but mos

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Well, thankfully I don't have to live in those "other developed countries".

            You are exactly the type of underinformed, opinionated American that gives the rest of us a bad name.

            Having lived for some time in Germany and England, and travelled throughout most of Europe and Asia, I can say with some experience that there are numerous places much better off than the United States when it comes down to income, healthcare, quality of living, and the ease with which you can start an company.

            Let me repeat that: and

      • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday June 06, 2014 @12:42PM (#47180657)

        What about citizens grouping together, pooling their money, and then using the pooled money to speak? What organizational form should that take, if not a corporation (usually not-for-profit)?

        Let's turn that around for a minute: Why should such groups get the privileged status afforded by incorporation, including things like limited liability and favorable tax treatment?

        If all the groups advocating for this "organized" free speech were general partnerships [wikipedia.org] where each member was actually responsible for the group's actions and kept on a level playing field with individuals, that would be one thing. But that's not what's going on here! Instead, the assholes who control these groups want special treatment that places them above individual citizens.

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          Let's turn that around for a minute: Why should such groups get the privileged status afforded by incorporation, including things like limited liability and favorable tax treatment?

          There is nothing "privileged" about that status: it's available to everyone for just about any purpose. It is widely used by almost every political group and organization because it's the right form of organization. Barack Obama has numerous such organizations created for the purpose of supporting him.

          Instead, the assholes who co

          • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

            If by 'any citizen' you mean 'anyone who can either pay the thousands of dollars to have a lawyer help them do the paperwork' or the 'anyone who can takes months figuring out the forms on their own'. Then yes.

            Which by the way is the same thing as the 'any citizen' when it comes to bankruptcy. I lost my job at one put in my life and couldn't pay my bills any longer. So the sane thing would be to apply for bankruptcy status, but it's not like it's just a form you can fill out. Instead it's a series of court d

            • by stenvar (2789879)

              Why should such groups get the privileged status afforded by incorporation, ... If by 'any citizen' you mean 'anyone who can either pay the thousands of dollars to have a lawyer help them do the paperwork' or the 'anyone who can takes months figuring out the forms on their own'. Then yes.

              The only reason to incorporate is because you want to accomplish something with a bunch of other people, a group, so the burden on each individual is small. My local running club is a corporation, and we are collecting the

    • So well said rabbin.
  • I thought it was just a bunch of libertarians and/or technologically illiterate businessmen.

    • by smartr (1035324)

      I'd recommend asking the libertarians:
      A. Do you think Comcast sucks, not just for terrible quality support, but for extorting money from the people you already paid them for the privilege of communicating with a la Netflix? If you desire access to the fastest connection available, Comcast is your provider in most of the country. Should not paying for the highest bandwidth access contractually cover your connecting with whoever you damn well please without Comcast extorting money from the endpoint you are co

  • by h4x0t (1245872)
    Is this news? This has and always will happen until it is made an illegal practice.
    • by ficuscr (1585141)
      I think making it illegal will be difficult. I look at it as reinforcing our need for good news/information sources so we can hopefully see through the bull shit. Unfortunately as we see a rise in propaganda and "AstroTurfing" we are also seeing the demise of independent quality news media. Very scary that these monolithic companies are also the ones that bring most of us the news. When we can't even determine that "Cable Companies Use Astroturfing To Fight Net Neutrality" because no one reports on it,
  • by stenvar (2789879) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:24AM (#47178705)

    Astroturfing is when organizations pretend to be grassroots, community organizations but are clandestinely funded by corporate interests. There is nothing clandestine about the funding for Broadband for America; it's a PR and lobbying organization that consists of a lot of big businesses and some little businesses:

    http://www.broadbandforamerica... [broadbandforamerica.com]

    I don't see why people get their panties in a knot about companies presenting their point of view publicly; you can listen to their arguments and either agree with them or disagree with them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nhstar (452291)

      Lately I find that, more and more, the mentality is "Either you're with us, or you're EVIL!" and this is just proof of that... Instead of presenting a divergent view, it's easier to plaster such organizations with hate and malicious intent, forgetting that the corporations are only doing what they're chartered to do: using every resource to increase wealth for their share-holders.

      I'm not advocating that this is the way it should be, just stating that, legally, this is the way that it is. Corporations aren

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        forgetting that the corporations are only doing what they're chartered to do: using every resource to increase wealth for their share-holders.

        Note that that isn't automatically in conflict with the interests of the rest of society. For example, Uber and Lyft advocate for increasing their own wealth, but in the process they also advocate breaking up taxi cartels and lowering transportation costs.

        forgetting that the corporations are only doing what they're chartered to do: using every resource to increase wea

      • Corporations aren't ~allowed~ to consider "the greater good" over that profit,

        http://www.newegg.com/Product/... [newegg.com] Granted, in retrospect, this looks like it turned into a good marketing move, but going into it, the history of such things would have indicated this was going to be little more than a money pit.

        • by rk (6314)

          The GP should say "publicly traded corporations" not just corporations in general. Being a private corporation, it can be run pretty much by whatever mandate the owner(s) want to, as long as what is done is not otherwise illegal. Newegg is privately held.

      • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Friday June 06, 2014 @11:12AM (#47179683)

        forgetting that the corporations are only doing what they're chartered to do: using every resource to increase wealth for their share-holders.

        Corporations aren't ~allowed~ to consider "the greater good" over that profit,

        Except that CEOs can do practically ANYTHING and justify it as "increasing wealth for the share-holders".

        Here we go:
        1) Fire everyone, sell everything, liquidate like it's 1999. This increases the bottom-line of the company and makes it easy to increase the wealth of the shareholders (effectively removing the risk of not knowing what the stock is worth, do all that liquidation and you have a definite value the stock can be compared against)

        2) Go into debt, hire a shit-ton of scientists, designers, artist, whoever to invest in the product so that next year/decade they'll be able to corner the market, bring in more money, and increase wealth for the shareholders.

        3) Dodge all taxes as it leaves more money for the shareholders

        4) Pay all the taxes as it removes the risk of the government coming in a busting up the company, shattering the wealth of the shareholders.

        5) Pissing it all away on hookers and blow. "Hey, I'm a high-powered businessman, I make you the money. Walk away, leave me in charge, and you'll get your quarterly gains (as long as the economy is still booming)."

        6) Axing all of the top skill and people with connections in the business. They're just doing lines of blow. It's not like we really need that guy whose mother is running the government regulator, I'm sure she'll be professional. Removing this overhead increases wealth for the shareholders.

        All of that happens and in some cases is even the smart thing to do. If you think corporations are somehow LEGALLY REQUIRED to curb-stomp you, then you have no flipping clue what happens in the business world.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The problem is that governing bodies like the FCC or your Congress-person can only work with opinions that they know. You can't take a poll of public opinion every time you want to make a decision, and polls are horribly unreliable anyway.

      The people that have to make the decisions only hear from the people that are concerned enough about a problem to contact them and personally tell them what they think. However, most actual concerned citizens are not paid to provide their opinion and find it a hassle to ha

    • by dinfinity (2300094) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:51AM (#47178939)

      Well, the story here is that things like "Broadband for America, a coalition of 300 Internet consumer advocates, content providers and engineers" don't sound like "Broadband of America, an organization sponsored mostly by Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and the likes."

      Attaching the former is disingenuous, as it mischaracterizes the organisation as being some kind of collective of consumer-oriented institutes. Of course, technically it doesn't say that, but most people are too oblivious to read between the lines of such a statement. So clearly, people become misinformed due to tactics such as these. What do you suggest we do to fix this misinformation?

      • by stenvar (2789879) on Friday June 06, 2014 @10:08AM (#47179083)

        Attaching the former is disingenuous, as it mischaracterizes the organisation as being some kind of collective of consumer-oriented institutes

        Yes, it's "disingenuous", but it's not Broadband for America's disingenuity because they didn't write that; that's how the SFGate byline characterizes BFA, so you should blame SFGate.

        What do you suggest we do to fix this misinformation?

        Shut down SFGate or the Hearst Corporation? Nuke all of SF from orbit ("it's the only way to be sure")? Create a politburo or a Minitruth? I dunno, you tell me what you're willing to do in the name of "fixing misinformation".

        Personally, I'd do nothing. Although SFGate writes a lot of nonsense, and lots of people (hello there) seem to be eating up that nonsense, ultimately, I believe in free speech, including the ability of people to counter nonsense spewed by big corporate entities like the Hearst Corporation (SFGate).

        • so you should blame SFGate.

          Don't make this about who's to blame. This is about public misinformation actively promoted by corporate interests and how and whether to counter it. Whether that SFGate, BfA or a combination of those two drives the misinformation is irrelevant.

          Personally, I'd do nothing.

          That says enough about you. But thanks for answering the question honestly.

          I dunno, you tell me what you're willing to do in the name of "fixing misinformation".

          How about defending an article exposing said misinformation [vice.com]? (Yes, The Fucking Article)

          As opposed to implying that what's going on is just "companies presenting their point of view publicly" a

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            How about defending an article exposing said misinformation? (Yes, The Fucking Article)

            You would defend an incorrect accusation? Vice is accusing BFA of astroturfing when BFA in fact did not astroturf; their accusation of astroturfing is based on an incorrect statement in SFGate's article.

            Whether that SFGate, BfA or a combination of those two drives the misinformation is irrelevant.

            I see. So because Vice picks up an incorrect accusation of astroturfing by SFGate, BFA becomes an astroturfer. Well, thanks for

            • Vice is accusing BFA of astroturfing

              It never says that anywhere. Unless they changed the article, the only accusation I find is in the headline: "CABLE COMPANIES ARE ASTROTURFING FAKE CONSUMER SUPPORT TO END NET NEUTRALITY".
              Anyway, if you really want to get into this: the writers of the article in SFgate are probably also very much responsible for (or at least very influential in) the characterization of the BfA below that article.

              I see.

              No, you don't. You want to sit back, allow the public to be misinformed (and lulled into inaction) due to word tr

              • by stenvar (2789879)

                You want to sit back, allow the public to be misinformed (and lulled into inaction)

                Yes, I do want to do exactly that. I want to sit and allow the public to be misinformed by Democrats, by Republicans, by unions, by corporations, by teachers, but mobsters, by prostitutes, and anybody else. That's what free speech means. And although people may be tricked into believing something incorrect, that is far better than any of the alternatives. I don't know whether you have experienced the alternatives, I have, fir

                • Nobody was implying that in this instance free speech should have been curtailed.

                  Again, this is about you saying this about TFA: "I don't see why people get their panties in a knot about companies presenting their point of view publicly; you can listen to their arguments and either agree with them or disagree with them."

                  By (mostly incorrectly) deriding TFA, the people writing it and its readers, you are actively aiding the misinformation that Vice is trying to combat in TFA. That is a definite step beyond d

                  • by stenvar (2789879)

                    Vice is spreading the misinformation: they are misrepresenting BFA as an astroturfer. It's a bald-faced lie on their part.

                    If you are talking about the arguments about net neutrality itself, Vice is spreading misinformation there as well. They present it as if it is a foregone conclusion that net neutrality via FCC regulation is a good thing for consumers. Given the corruption and past failures of the FCC and telecoms regulation, Vice is either utterly stupid, or they are in the pocket of some powerful speci

                    • Vice is spreading the misinformation: they are misrepresenting BFA as an astroturfer. It's a bald-faced lie on their part.

                      Quote, please.
                      Also, this is a tu quoque. You seem to be implying that the article mentioned in TFA is somehow not misinformation. Which it is. And I quote: 'Yes, it's "disingenuous"'

                      If you are talking about the arguments about net neutrality itself

                      Nope. I was talking about you deriding an article that tries to make people a little bit more aware of how corporate interests are being 'masked' as messages from consumer advocacy groups.

                      Given the corruption and past failures of the FCC and telecoms regulation, Vice is either utterly stupid, or they are in the pocket of some powerful special interests. And frankly, so are you.

                      Your premise doesn't even remotely support your conclusions here. But I am pretty interested in how you propose achieving net neutrality, if n

    • Right, I was a bit confused by this as well. When did we suddenly forget what Astroturfing was?

      This is exactly what corporate regulatory affairs departments are for. Every company and charity out there does this. The corporations owners/shareholders have 1st amendment rights to. They're free to donate to whatever lobbying groups they think they should.

    • I don't see why people get their panties in a knot about companies presenting their point of view publicly; you can listen to their arguments and either agree with them or disagree with them.

      There is a difference between presenting your point of view publicly and manipulating public opinion. These types of groups do not exist to give a fair and open view of their position. They exist to sway your opinion through appeals to fear and emotion (You'll pay more! You'll lose your freedom!). They will distort, withhold information, and pay off experts all in order to cause you to think a certain way.

      So it's not really a matter of two or more views being honestly presented for people to evaluate. I

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        They exist to sway your opinion through appeals to fear and emotion (You'll pay more! You'll lose your freedom!).

        I don't understand what you're trying to say. The question of whether we want or don't want net neutrality is about how much we pay and how much freedom we have, on both sides of the argument.

        It's a matter of interested parties trying to got people to think a certain way, using deception, obfuscation and half-truths to do it.

        And which of the two sides is using "deception, obfuscation, and half-tr

    • I don't think that people get upset about companies presenting their view. What they get upset about is the outsized voice the corporations can afford to buy. The corporate view is given far greater weight than the views of the public at large in political discourse. Since corporations have far more money than the public to spend on lobbying and advertising, and throw on for added measure campaign contributions in an effort to sway politicians to the corporate view, the result is quite predictable in that l

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        The corporate view is given far greater weight than the views of the public at large in political discourse.

        "Is given greater weight" by who? What does that even mean?

        Since corporations have far more money than the public to spend on lobbying and advertising, and throw on for added measure campaign contributions in an effort to sway politicians to the corporate view, the result is quite predictable in that laws get passed and regulations written that favor corporations over the public interest.

        So, what you

        • Is given greater weight by the politicians or regulators that the corporations are lobbying or donating to. It means that the corporation view is considered first or given more importance than competing views.

          I am not advocating, "wanting", or expressing a desire for any particular form of government. I was pointing out the current situation with regards to lobbying and campaign financing leads to corporations having an outsized voice with politicians and regulators compared to competing interests such as t

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            Is given greater weight by the politicians or regulators that the corporations are lobbying or donating to. It means that the corporation view is considered first or given more importance than competing views.

            Show some actual evidence for that statement.

    • I don't see why people get their panties in a knot about companies presenting their point of view publicly; you can listen to their arguments and either agree with them or disagree with them.

      Excuse me, but this is NOT "companies presenting their point of view publicly." You know how I can tell? Because Comcast felt the need to create a separate[ish] entity called "Broadband for America" for the express purpose that the name "Comcast" wouldn't be directly attached to the goddamn speech!

      If Comcast wants to sp

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        Because Comcast felt the need to create a separate[ish] entity called "Broadband for America" for the express purpose that the name "Comcast" wouldn't be directly attached to the goddamn speech!

        No, they did it for the express purpose of being able to speak jointly with a lot of other individuals and groups holding the same opinion.

        You know, for the same reason Barack Obama created "Organizing for Action".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This weekend, I think I am going to hire a Dingo to watch my kids...

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:28AM (#47178739)

    As long as it is clear who is making these claims against net neutrality, there is nothing terribly wrong with it.

    There are, of course, issues. There are issues with politicians and governmental bodies refusing to listen to certain groups because of conflict of interest or inherent bodies (e.g. funding or other industry ties). There are issues with the industry having an inequitable amount of funding to pursue lobbying. (In essence, they are using revenues generated by consumers to lobby against the interests of consumers.)

    But as long as it is clear where the message is coming from, such as the composition of a group's membership and where it obtains its funding, they have as much right to present their perspective as anyone else. It is really up to the recipient of these letters to assess the validity of the claims based upon the evidence and their independence. (For instance, I would consider any survey presented by an industry group to be heavily biased since the wording of such surveys or their target demographic can distort the results.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:29AM (#47178741)

    ... fake citizen groups ...

    It is government of the [common] people, by the [fake] people, for the [rich] people. Sounds legit.

  • "Welcome, sonny"? "Make yourself at home"? "Marry my daughter"? You've got to remember that these are just simple greedy goons. These are people of the trade group world. The common clay of the new Wall Street. You know... morons.
  • I don't get it. Is there a mistake in the summary? 2 million is not the bulk of 3.5 billion (out by a few orders of magnitude). I also followed the "$2 million donation" link but I couldn't see these numbers on the web page.
  • Google gives millions to groups that -- surprise, surprise-- fight for "net neutrality". So does Netflix. What does "net neutrality" mean? We shouldn't be surprised that these groups fight to make it easier for Google and Netflix to make money without having to share it with the cable companies. This is how business is done. The only thing naive about this article is that it pretends that only the cable companies are astroturfing. The EFF is one big astroturf factory for the Google.
  • The reporter has a massive slant and I suspect a political agenda when he slams the DCI group as "infamous". Clearly he is a democrat that wants to demonize all things corporate and all things Republican.

    I am surprised more do not see the whole "net neutrality" thing for what it really is. Content providers don't want to pay for the bandwidth they use to make money on. It would also, much like current "regulated" utilities create a monopoly were price would be controlled and competition would be none. Tha
    • Content providers don't want to pay for the bandwidth they use to make money on.

      If the bottleneck is at Netflix to the internet connection this would be true. If packets drop at the ISP fence because they cannot deliver them, then the problem is the ISP. I suspect Netflix watches where the packets drop and it isn't on their end. If they can send them they payed for them. That in a nutshell is the definition of net neutrality.

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday June 06, 2014 @12:00PM (#47180185)

    ... to produce such material, doesn't that make them a lobbyist? Don't they have to register as such and divulge that fact when producing any correspondence, advertising copy, or press releases and editorial comment? IANAL, but the regulations applying to the big boys on K Street can be easily circumvented if thy don't also apply to individuals who take a couple of bucks to sign and send a boilerplate letter to government officials. And such a loophole needs to be plugged.

  • This explains the occasional anti-net neutrality post you see in these net neutrality discussions. No one—and I mean no one—other than someone with a financial interest would ever oppose net neutrality.

  • I was reading an exchange on reddit between someone posting for an anti-gmo event and pro-gmo people criticizing the guy.

    The anti-GMO guy pointed out that he recognized the nicknames of the pro-GMO guys from earlier threads. He went on to say the he was suspicious that they were cranks or paid corporate astroturfers.

    I'm not taking a side on the GMO thing, but I was shocked that everyone in that thread seemed naive about the existence of corproate astroturfers.

    This post was good for reminding people that th

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