Earlier in the week, we noted some blatant propaganda from an astroturfing group supported by telcos and other companies that are against legislation that would mandate network neutrality. But groups on the other side of the issue are getting up to PR stunts as well, trotting out well-known policy analyst Moby for a press conference, while REM has generated some more publicity by aligning itself with the "Save the Internet" crowd. This puts the musicians in with some strange bedfellows, including the Christian Coalition and the Gun Owners of America. But despite that broad base of support, the net neutrality debate is quickly becoming a largely partisan issue. Many of these groups are concerned with free-speech issues, thinking that without net neutrality, network owners could simply block content they don't agree with -- but that's not likely to be an issue. The telcos' motivation in this issue is not political, it's strictly financial. They'll only seek payment from companies and content providers like Google, Apple and Vonage that can pay enough to make it worthwhile, and are probably smart enough to realize that blocking sites on political grounds wouldn't be a smart move. It seems like the net neutrality issue has crossed a fine line: while it was important to make more people aware of what was going on, some of the groups raising the awareness -- on both sides -- have turned this into a highly politicized debate, and one whose outcome will probably be determined more by political, partisan ideology rather than any more meaningful criteria.
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