Congress Busted Using Cable Lobbyist Talking Points In Attacks On Net Neutrality
from the professional-parrots dept
By now, most Techdirt readers realize that far too many members of Congress don’t so much have thoughts about technology policy, as they do bulleted mental lists of talking points provided by a lobbyist happy to do their thinking for them. That has been particularly true when it comes to telecom policy over the last few months, especially the GOP’s ham-fisted attack on popular consumer broadband privacy protections and the telecom sector’s self-serving frontal assault on net neutrality.
Over the last few weeks, as the FCC was preparing to begin dismantling net neutrality rules, House lawmakers received an email from GOP leadership educating them on how to best defend the agency’s extremely unpopular decision. Included in that e-mail was an attached list of talking points (pdf) making all manner of disengenous claims about the net neutrality debate:
“Want more information on the net neutrality discussion?? wrote Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference. “Here is a nifty toolkit with news resources, myth vs reality information, what others are saying, and free market comments.”
Usually, Congress members cover their tracks well enough to obfuscate the fact they let lobbyists and campaign contributions do the thinking for them. But the Intercept noticed that metadata attached to the talking points clearly indicate they originated with the cable industry’s biggest lobbying organization, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA):
“The metadata of the document shows it was created by Kerry Landon, the assistant director of industry grassroots at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, a trade group that lobbies on behalf of Comcast, Cox Communications, Charter, and other cable industry companies. The document was shared with House Republican leaders via ?Broadband for America,? a nonprofit largely funded by the NCTA.”
As such, you’ll surely be shocked to learn that many of the talking points included in the packet weren’t remotely true, including one claiming net neutrality is somehow “anti-consumer,” another regurgitating the repeatedly-debunked claim that net neutrality killed network investment, and several repeating the industry’s favorite claim that net neutrality protections aren’t necessary, because the broadband industry never does anything wrong:
“These ?Title II? regulations, rammed through the FCC by the Obama White House, were based on a hypothetical fear of broadband providers blocking certain websites or putting competitors in slow lanes. But despite ten years of the left stoking those hypothetical fears, they never materialized. Why? Because it is not in the interest of broadband providers to degrade the experience of their customers, especially when watching video or streaming services. The broadband providers would lose customers to their competitors if they ever attempted to block content.”
Here on planet Earth, we’ve watched as large ISPs used usage caps to hurt streaming competitors, block users from using certain services unless they pay for more expensive data plans, intentionally congest their networks to drive up interconnection costs, throttle entire classifications of traffic then lie about it, and even group up to block competing mobile apps and services they didn’t want to compete with. Anybody that thinks it’s hyperbole to state that ISPs will use their size, leverage and the lack of broadband competition to engage in a rotating crop of anti-competitive behaviors simply has not been paying attention.
And again, while it’s still unsurprising to see lawmakers mindlessly parrot whatever giant telecom conglomerates tell them to, that doesn’t make it any less grotesque. Combine that with the bot that’s spamming the FCC with bogus support for the FCC’s unpopular policies and the coordinated effort to make net neutrality supporters appear racist and unhinged, and you may begin to notice that the companies pushing this latest anti-consumer agenda aren’t particularly concerned about integrity or playing fair.