Hands Off The Truth; Why It's Hard To Take Hands Off The Internet Seriously

from the let's-try-this-again dept

While we've made it pretty clear that regulations calling for codifying net neutrality could be dangerous, we simply can't support some of the groups fighting against these laws. There are a bunch of groups, all funded by the telcos, of course, who have taken intellectual dishonesty to new lows. We think there are many good, legitimate reasons to be worried about putting network neutrality into law (looking at the way our representatives put other technology issues into law should give you an idea why) -- but the fact that these groups feel the need to exaggerate their claims to ridiculous outright lies is worrisome. Rather than being convincing, it actually makes us more skeptical of their position. It's as if they think everyone out there is stupid. The absolute worst of the bunch has to be "Hands Off the Internet," a group run by Mike McCurry. Last year, we noted that he pretended that the whole reason for the network neutrality push was that $117 billion company Google wanted to make the internet more expensive. He conveniently left out that his group was funded by $117 billion company AT&T and had equally suspect motives. But, the real whopper was when he claimed that Google wanted net neutrality so they would "never have to pay a dime no matter how much bandwidth they use." That, of course, is ridiculous. And to prove it, I asked Mike McCurry if he would pay Google's bandwidth bill for a month. McCurry and Hands Off ignored the question.

However, they obviously have been paying attention to Techdirt -- though, in the simpleminded world of shilldom, they seem to have believed that since we pointed out their dishonesty, we must be "pro-network neutrality legislation" and "anti-telecom." Nothing is further from the truth. We do believe that network neutrality is good for the internet -- but not that it should be put into law. We think that the whole debate is clouding the real issue, which is the lack of meaningful competition in the market. However, we're very much "pro-telecom." We just believe that being "pro-telecom" means helping those companies provide better services to customers. On the corporate side of our business, we work with a number of telecom companies to help them understand these trends and make better decisions, and they seem quite happy with the output. But, our business is not to "shill," so if we see these telecom companies doing something stupid, we'll say it. The same is true if we see folks in favor of network neutrality legislation doing something we disagree with. That's why we recently wrote about why we disagreed with the calls for network neutrality in the wireless space. The claims were based on some faulty information and we pointed that out.

However, you wouldn't know any of that if you were just reading the Hands Off The Internet blog. There, they put up a blog post celebrating the fact that even the "pro-NN, anti-telecom" bloggers at Techdirt had come around to realize that wireless network neutrality rules were a bad idea. In fact, they claimed we posted our thoughts "reluctantly." Now, if you read Techdirt frequently, you should know we never post things reluctantly. We take our position because we believe in them, and we open up our comments and we discuss them with people, because we stand by our opinions. If we get something factually wrong, we'll admit it and correct our mistakes. Apparently, Hands Off The Internet doesn't feel the same way. They certainly don't allow comments on their blog. I emailed them to point out their mistakes and to suggest they make a correction -- but rather than do so, they put up a second post referring to our post, without bothering to correct their factually incorrect statements. While we might have some common ground with them -- though our position isn't as extreme as theirs -- it really makes you wonder why they're so disconnected from the truth. It doesn't make anyone any more likely to support their side. It just makes us wonder how truthful even their seemingly legitimate points are. If they play so fast and loose with the facts on such obvious points, perhaps they can't be trusted on anything else as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    EdB, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 7:31pm

    They spin. You spin. What, other than they spin your spin, is the problem?

     

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  2.  
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    ScaredOfTheMan, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 7:59pm

    I have made it my personal mission to explain to people exactly what net neutrality is who wants it and who doesn't then I let them decide.

    I especially enjoy telling the retired and elderly about it, since they seem to be the only ones that vote.

    For some reason I can't figure out the majority of Internet users can't seem to take all this online frustration into the real world. The governing bodies never really have anything to fear. Laws are not written or repealed because of what's written in the comments section ;)

     

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  3.  
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    DittoBox, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 8:10pm

    ISPs

    ISPs ought to to just outright ban Handsoff.org unless Handsoff pays up to ISPS.

    Then Handsoff.org can see why net neutraility is a good thing, even if it shouldn't be put into law (technology laws are almost always retarded in some aspect).

     

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  4.  
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    haywood, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 8:24pm

    Kind of like the anti-drug ads

    Few of which have a grain of truth. The only one I ever though hit the nail on the head was; the one of the 30 something guys getting high & boasting how they never turned to crime or harder drugs, that nothing had happened for 10 years. That one hits to the problem; get high, lose a decade.

     

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  5.  
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    Michael Vilain, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 9:19pm

    Great explaination of net neutrality

    The Daily Show's John Hodgeman says it all:

     

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  6.  
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    Chris, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 10:23pm

    sure

    When wikipedia is the "best" source of information that is freely accessable to the public, and any half decent site wants to charge you an arm and a leg, I don't really care what happens to net neutrality. When you do finaly find something of worth, after sifting through probably 100 pages of useless crap, you might be so lucky to find two paragraphs pertaining any shread of relevance to the topic you're researching in the first place.

    Ten years ago the internet was mostly used to share information freely amongst anyone who wanted to access it. Now everything has a buisness aspect to it, and without paying to some degree you're not going to get quality content. Instead of using it as a forum to share intellectual corespondences throughout the world the internet is mostly used for whoring out whatever someone can to make a buck. In another 10 years I don't see how it's going to get anything but insanely worse. Every time someone wants to put something out there that could be beneficial to society, such as Google books, you get a myraid of people trying to stop it from happening.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 3:32am

    The best part of their website is looking at the corporate membership page and realizing where this all comes from

     

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  8.  
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    PopeRatzo, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 3:36am

    telcos are anti-competition

    Telecommunications is one of the least competitive of all major industries. They ignore the laws of supply and demand, and to them, the "free market" is just a slogan.

    If you want to be stunned by how arrogant they are, go to the site of the NPR show "On the Media" and look for a show from last week about the way telcos have been anti-competition and anti-free market in regard to the cellular phone business. There's a really interesting interview with some VP of a telco industry org and instead of answering questions about why they are so anti-competitive and anti-consumer, he just chants "free market" over and over. It's enlightening.

     

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  9.  
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    Timothy Karr, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 4:48am

    OK Mike. So What's the Solution?

    Mike. It's clear that HOTI aren't honest brokers in this debate, despite there efforts to look and feel grassrootsy. Their fraudulence has been established from day one. In fact, we at the SavetheInternet.com Coalition are grateful for the tens of thousands of people who have come to our side of the net neutrality debate after being repulsed by Mike McCurry. We're grateful also that you have brought this shilling to the attention of even more people. What gets me is your reluctance to commit to a viable solution to safeguard Net Neutrality. I agree that a broadband marketplace where users have a choice of 8-10 providers would be ideal. But we are far, far from that ideal (more than 98 percent of the market is controlled by phone and cable providers, most all of whom have lobbied against Net Neutrality). Until we can reach that ideal of diversity of broadband choice, how do we stop this duopoly from going forward with their stated plans to discriminate?

    Respectfully in disagreement. Tim

     

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  10.  
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    billy, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 5:52am

    Re # 9

    Read a lot of the past posts on Net Neutrality and maybe you would be better understanding.
    The basic idea of a lot of it (as far as I have understood) is that rushing into legislation is always bad (this is proven anyways by the slugheads in all congresses). The idea can be good, if done right. But rushing in to pass laws will only create a web of other problems.
    I cannot remember many of the details currently, have been suffering from lack of sleep every single night for most of a week now.
    But a lot of the other posts will help clarify the position. The is not as you mentioned, that Mike has not chosen a side. He has, and it is probably one of the best possible from everything I have read.
    Just some thoughts ..

     

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  11.  
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    billy, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 5:56am

    oh, and mike ..

    "It's as if they think everyone out there is stupid."
    For 90% of humans, that is true.


    lol, i feel the above statement is accurate BUT:
    59% of statistics are made up on the spot =P

     

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  12.  
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    rstr5105, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 8:48am

    how about....

    Alright, there are a few problems with net neutrality actually hitting the light of day. I'm going to focus on just one of them.

    There is NO competition amongst telcos. Here are the choices for internet service where I live, are you ready?

    1. Verizon DSL.
    2. Comcast Digital Internet.

    That's it. And here's where the problem lies, Verizon owns all the telephone lines in the area. And you guessed it, Comcast owns the cable lines. Fishy eh?

    I called a company about getting different internet, and Verizon charges $500 to use their lines to connect one house. Not $500 and it's over, it's per month.

    The solution, as I see it and I am not a Commie(Although my post might make it look that way), is to simply subsidize the communications infrastructure.

    I know this sounds like it won't help, but, by doing that now these companies aren't holding a monopoly on said infrastructure. Meaning that If I want to start an ISP I pay a minimal fee once to connect my building to the wiring and start serving. Big Telco's pay the same percentage as I do.

    Further, now instead of Comcast and Verizon being my two
    providers I also have Companies X, Y, & Z to choose from.

    Which in turn means, that's it, competition. The only thing we need to ensure Net Neutrality, is competition to the big Telco's. The only thing we need for competition is an infrastructure that is a heck of a lot cheaper to connect to and use. Come on, just subsidize the infrastructure. Get it out of the hands of Verizon and the like.

    Rstr

     

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  13.  
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    Fern, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 9:30am

    government stupidity versus oligopoly

    What a Hobson's choice. I've got a bit more flexibility because we, gasp, shock, have two cable companies to choose from Astound and Comcast as well as AT&T, but still it's an oligopoly.

    To put it cynically, I think the big telcos are more evil than government as evidenced by the lies about your position. So, given the choice of bad and worse, I'll choose what I think is the less evil, a law, rather than the greater evil of the oligopolists spoiling the network.

    Tis an ugly choice, but, until the revolution comes, what can we do.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 9:40am

    Re: government stupidity versus oligopoly

    "To put it cynically, I think the big telcos are more evil than government as evidenced by the lies about your position."

    And government doesn't lie about things regularly?

     

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  15.  
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    MyNameIsMatt, Mar 8th, 2007 @ 4:02pm

    Market failures makes laws viable

    I'm pretty much going to echo Tim's statements, but as I see it, there's a market failure currently on this issue, and the companies involved are pushing to worsen the situation through anti-neutrality practices, if not their own laws from legislators. Additionally, one of the main reasons governments and their laws is for correcting market failures and protecting the people when it's necessary, which is why I'm a huge fan of free speech, fair business, net neutrality laws. If we don't push for that kind of protection from our government, then I don't belief the market will supply that obvious benefit, but instead support a failure in the market to that industry's benefit and the consumers' detriment.

     

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


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