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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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  • 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: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.

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