Laying More Astroturf In the Net Neutrality Debate

from the carpet-the-world dept

Another astroturfing group has popped up in the net neutrality debate, backed by an amalgamation of telcos, political groups and network equipment vendors, and looking to frame the issue as one of unwanted government interference in the internet. Nothing notable there, but the animated movie the group has made is a real piece of work. The movie's hand-drawn look hides the fact that this production is paid for by a number of huge, interested parties in the telecom industry, and it goes on to make some fairly dishonest claims. First is the contention that consumers now have "more choice" when it comes to high-speed internet access, implying that there's healthy competition in the marketplace when all that really exists is a healthy duopoly. The group then hauls out the tired idea that content companies are looking for a free ride, saying that they don't want to pay "anything", and leave consumers to pay the whole bill -- a ridiculous contention. The movie implies that some part of the connection between content providers and consumers isn't being paid for, a common -- and absolutely untrue -- piece of telco propaganda. Also, if consumers are left to pay "the whole bill", as the movie says, should carriers' plans to extort content providers be unsuccessful, can consumers expect to see their bills drop if they do start extorting them? We didn't think so. The group also engages in some crafty semantics, saying that the only examples neutrality supporters can point to of ISPs blocking "web sites" are from Canada, which conveniently omits the multiple examples of American ISPs blocking VoIP, streaming media and other services, as well as ignores comments from ISPs who think they should be able to block any competing services they wish on their networks. The biggest problem, though, is in the conclusion of the movie, which says the issue of net neutrality comes down to who will control the internet -- the people, or the government. This is pretty laughable, since should telcos and carriers be allowed to discriminate against content providers that won't pay protection money, they'll be the ones controlling the internet -- certainly not "the people".


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Jamie, May 16th, 2006 @ 2:09pm

    This is really getting annoying

    I pay my local telecom (Bellsouth) for a connection to the Internet. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft all pay for connections to the Internet. So who is it that the telecoms think is not paying for a connection? From here it looks like everyone pays the telecoms for the Internet.
    All this is about is a case of the telecoms trying to make certain people/companies pay for the same bandwidth twice. Today it is the Internet companies; tomorrow it will be the consumers.
    I'm sure someone in this thread will bring up the tired excuse that the telecoms didn't expect me to use the full bandwidth that I was given. Well, if they didn't expect me to use it, then they shouldn't have sold it to me. No one forced Bellsouth to sell me DSL at the price and speed they did. They could have charged whatever they wanted to charge for whatever speed they wanted.
    I am so sick of the wining about people using the bandwidth and clogging the telecom’s pipes. The truth is that if they can't handle the traffic at those levels then they shouldn't be selling it.

     

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  2.  
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    John Dowdell, May 16th, 2006 @ 2:12pm

    Astroturfing both ways

    But the whole "network neutrality" meme sprang up overnight, in response to a MoveOn.org chainletter.

    You could say that the people who echoed that message were *authentic* unthinking puppets, but from what I've been able to dig up, people are being pushed around by themes on both sides of the issue... haven't seen anyone focus on one specific regulation we might or might not need. Everybody's all mom&applePie both ways.....

     

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  3.  
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    Mike (profile), May 16th, 2006 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Astroturfing both ways

    But the whole "network neutrality" meme sprang up overnight, in response to a MoveOn.org chainletter.

    Hmm. Really? While I don't agree with MoveOn's position in this, we and plenty of others were talking about net neutrality LONG before they showed up a month or so ago.

    Hell, we first used the phrase "network neutrality" in 2004, and have used it many many times since. It's not an issue created by MoveOn in any way, but one they picked up on lately.

     

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  4.  
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    Just One Guy, May 16th, 2006 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Astroturfing both ways

    But the whole "network neutrality" meme sprang up overnight, in response to a MoveOn.org chainletter.

    BUT REALLY????

    And I was so convinced that the basis of the network neutrality were laid down back in the time that Internet was being designed and implemented, a rule that, at the time, was called "end-to-end principle" (Jerome H. Saltzer, David P. Reed, and David D. Clark, End-to-end arguments in system design, ACM Transactions on Computer Systems 2, 4 (November 1984), pages 277-288)...

    How dumb was I!

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    AJ, May 16th, 2006 @ 2:52pm

    enough already....

    the telebastards won't stop untill the've lined enough pockets bribed enough officials and spun this whole thing into getting what they want. I really hope this never happens, I REALLY HOPE my elected officials are listening to messeges, and reading my emails, but I have little hope. Greed ownes all, and in the absence of legitimate approaches to getting what they want, they will find illegal ones, and blame it all on file sharing and what not as that seems to be the scape goat of the moment. I wont give up the fight, but i keep see'ing this in the news and on web sites, WHY WONT THEY LISTEN TO US! I AM THE ONE BUYING YOUR PRODUCTS, STOP FUCKING ME!
    sigh

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Blbpaws, May 16th, 2006 @ 2:55pm

    Wonderful

    Who funds groups like these? Big businesses who can't compete.

    Who funds politicians campaigns all too often? Big businesses who can't compete.

    Wonderful.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Richard Mathis, May 16th, 2006 @ 3:13pm

    There is a debate?

    I didn't think network neutrality was a debate, I thought it was more like:
    Telcos: Big pile of lies
    Consumers and content providers: You're full of it.

    And it ended there, of course, politicians aren't part of either group, and consumer lobbying groups are generally underfunded compared to big business, so we can only hope the content provider types like Microsoft and Google are lobbying hard enough to eventually settle this for good in the consumer's favor.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Patrick Mullen, May 16th, 2006 @ 3:13pm

    Re: enough already....

    Sorry, the NSA might be listening to your messages and reading your emails, but your elected officials don't.

    Look, you are going to pay for your content, one way or another. You might pay higher prices for song downloads, or you might pay for faster broadband speeds. Its just a matter of who you pay that extra amount to.

    Free doesn't exist. TV was "free" except for the fact that you were forced to watch advertising that paid for the programming. Everything was nice and good, and then VCR's and TiVo and 499 channels that fragmented the market and allowed users to skip ads, and guess what? Programming went to crap. We end up with 4 channels of Law and Order and multitudes of reality shows. Someone somewhere has to pay for services, its just a matter of who or how you pay.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Dan O, May 16th, 2006 @ 3:27pm

    Public Strategies Washington

    handsoff.org's chairman, Mike McCurry, works for Public Strategies Washington, which according to their own web site is

    "...a full-service government relations and lobbying firm..."

    He also works for Grassroots Enterprise that works for

    "...corporations, trade associations, nonprofit organizations, and industry coalitions..."

    Not "the people" we are led to believe!-.

    See this post for more.

     

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  10.  
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    Quar, May 16th, 2006 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Re: enough already....

    Ya know, I know Im not that young but I still remember fantastatically bad shows even when there was only a few channels.

    I think alot of the difficulty that the Telco's have stems from the they are trying to be like the old media empires. Newspapers, TV, Radio, Movies - all of these are traditionally one way communication, with very little consumer comment other than wether it is purchased or not.

    What they fail to realize is that they are more like roads. Traffic flows both ways, and anybody can make an exit anywhere. The limitations in the system are rate based not quantity, or quality. Heck I'd say that could be why we get the crap we get now because the focus is on hitting the boardest audience for maximum dollar.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2006 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: enough already....

    Are you actually saying that DVR's have brought about poor quality TV programing. That statment is laughable at best. Waaaayyy before DVR's we have had such gems of quaility TV programming such as Knight Rider and Bay Watch. I don't mind paying for better programming(HBO Band of Brothers, Deadwood etc..) but to say DVR's are responible for the shit on TV is more entertaining than current TV offerings

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    RoyalPeasantry, May 16th, 2006 @ 4:27pm

    Shooting themselves in the foot....

    Look at television. Do the broadcast stations CHARGE the studios to play thier shows on the air? No, it doesn't work that way. In fact its just the opposite, the broadcast companies pay the studios to produce thier shows. Why? Because the shows are WHY PEOPLE WATCH TV.

    The analogy is not precise, unlike studios the content proviers make their money directly off the consumers instead of from the ISPs. But the point I am trying to make is still valid.
    Without Google, eBay, Yahoo, P2P, streaming video, ect..., the internet is pretty much useless. At the very least people arn't going to need their high speed internet anymore. I know if they start choking P2P I'm going to lower my plan.

    The telcos are aiming the gun at themselves and they can't even see it. If anything they should be PAYING Google and all the rest for making the internet more usefull.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Patrick Mullen, May 16th, 2006 @ 6:08pm

    DVR's are the latest, and the advertising model was cracked before they came into existance, but they don't help. It is a fact that the fragmented audience brought on by 400 channels, TiVo nation and the like.

    Just because you don't think KnightRider wasn't great doesn't mean they didn't have good ratings. With only 3 choices, it worked.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    John Dowdell, May 16th, 2006 @ 8:15pm

    Re: Re: Astroturfing both ways

    Folks at Techdirt may well have advocated price-controls on connectivity before, but I was referring to the sudden vast spike in conversation and media coverage that arrived the weekend after the MoveOn chainmail.

    From what I see myself, it looks like there's bigtime astroturfing going on around the whole issue, not just on a single side of the issue. Charges of apostasy are rife. Give me the creeps, those tactics do. :(

    Tell you what, do a search on "'network neutrality' 'fenton communications'", then check on the latter phrase alone. These folks are programmers -- not of code or of content, but of audiences. I fear this conversation has been gamed.

     

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  15.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), May 16th, 2006 @ 8:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Astroturfing both ways

    John, I'm REALLY surprised at these comments.

    Folks at Techdirt may well have advocated price-controls on connectivity before, but I was referring to the sudden vast spike in conversation and media coverage that arrived the weekend after the MoveOn chainmail.

    Price controls? Please explain. When did we advocate price controls on connectivity? Also, I disagree that there was a huge spike after MoveOn got involved. There was plenty of talk before they got involved, and I think it's wrong to say that the interest now is because of their involvement. Much of the interest came last year when the Bells all started making public statements about making Google pay.

    Is it likely that corporations on both sides of the debate have gotten involved? Absolutely, but to claim that the interest is entirely because of astroturfing is 100% bogus.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    bookman, May 17th, 2006 @ 1:35am

    Re: Re: enough already....

    "...to skip ads, and guess what? Programming went to crap"

    Get a clue. Programming went to crap long, _long_ before any of the stuff you're yammering about came to pass.

    I misremember exactly who said it when, but IIRC it wass pre-1970: "television is called a 'meduim'. That's appropriate, because it is neither rare, nor well-done.

    Correlation does not equate to causation.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Louis, May 17th, 2006 @ 3:21am

    Propaganda

    You know...

    Hitler used similar brainwashing techniques in the Media to convince the German population that Jews were moneygrubbing, long nosed, child molesters.

    Its nice to see that 50 years later the spirit of propaganda lives on in the hearts and minds of the large corporations.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Nilt, May 17th, 2006 @ 8:30am

    Wow! Fiber to the home "soon"!

    Am I the only one who saw the promise of "pretty soon" we'll all have fiber connections to the home in that piece of crap? Man, I wish! :-)

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    John Dowdell, May 18th, 2006 @ 7:42am

    turf both ways

    There are reports today (in TAS via DNC) that Google is now MoveOn's largest financial donor, with contributions from Yahoo and others.

    I don't mind if a cartoon explains one party's point of view. If the cartoon contains factual errors then these can be pointed out.

    I get a little scared when I wake up one day and lots of people are suddenly talking about "the internet's first amendment", and lobbying for US-specific legislation which no one has seen and read.

    Saying that all the astroturfing is only done by "telebastards" and pulling out genocidal socialist rulers doesn't hold up, from what I see... people are being manipulated on both sides of the issue. That's a clue to me that the decision itself should not be centralized.

    (btw, I still recommend some research on David Fenton... he's the key to sudden explosions in public commentary like this.)

    (Mike wrote: "to claim that the interest is entirely because of astroturfing is 100% bogus." That's a straw man, a digression... wasn't claimed. "Price control" is the nut of any proposed political control.)

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    PBCliberal, May 19th, 2006 @ 5:00pm

    Governmental control

    Its interesting that the majority of the corporate sponsors of the "no governmental control" arguments are the very companies who used government-sanctioned monopolies to build their communications infrastructure through government commissions that made sure phone rates allowed them a "reasonable return on investment" while keeping competitors out.

    If they really oppose governmental control, then how about promoting a true level playing field where internet communications don't have to pass through the entrenched telephone operating companies or community-franchised cable companies?

    This is an attempt to remove governmental controls that the court has struck down at the FCC (which only remain in place temporarily until the issue reaches final judicial resolution.) If these controls are not replaced legislatively when they disappear at the FCC, the telcos and cable companies will own the internet.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    CrushU, May 21st, 2006 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re: enough already....

    Free doesn't exist. TV was "free" except for the fact that you were forced to watch advertising that paid for the programming. Everything was nice and good, and then VCR's and TiVo and 499 channels that fragmented the market and allowed users to skip ads, and guess what? Programming went to crap. We end up with 4 channels of Law and Order and multitudes of reality shows. Someone somewhere has to pay for services, its just a matter of who or how you pay.

    That's right. Free doesn't exist. The telcos are already paid for the connection. ISPs pay telcos for the bandwidth for their clients (Unless they are the telco. Nice arrangement there) and companies and consumers pay the ISP for their bandwidth and domain names.

    Essentially, you're paying for an IP address. You pay extra if you want it to not change, and to give it a pretty name. You also pay a little more if you want some files hosted on a server somewhere.

    Who said the Internet was free, again?

    And just because the ads are being skipped doesn't mean programming goes down the hole. Ads are still paying for the programming, whether or not they're watched. The ad companies may get more desperate and offer their ads to more programs, but the programs themselves still have to be on a channel.

    (This means the channel's bigwigs decide on the programming for that channel, not the ads, and not the programs themselves. Usually this means that shows that people watch are put on the air, and sad to say it, people WATCH Law and Order, and the reality shows. Sucks, doesn't it? Oh, wait, that's right. We have the 498 other channels we can watch if we don't like what's being shown on that one. Nevermind.)

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    yjy, Jul 11th, 2006 @ 8:27pm

    P2P

    http://en.cciptv.com/p2p-streaming-media-server-peer-to-peer-streaming-Internet-IPTV-TV-Downloads.as px

    CCIPTV Live Podcaster, typical of new P2P Live Podcaster, can realize the function of podcasting, sending the local audio and video files and signals from television card, compression card, collection card, PC camera, microphone to the Internet, which makes you to set up your own Internet TV station only on a common PC. Meanwhile, this software can play such formats as rm、rmvb、mpeg、mpg、mpeg4、avi、wmv、wma、mp3、DVD and even transit all the Internet TV programs of different formats.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymouse Coward, Aug 27th, 2006 @ 7:36pm

    Re: Astroturfing both ways

    Really? Cos last time I checked, the Christian Coalition was on board with MoveOn when it comes to this issue. Hardly seems like a liberal consipiracy to me. But then... I'm not drinking the same Kool-Aid you are.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    ku, Oct 8th, 2006 @ 7:09pm

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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