AT&T Blatantly Lies, Claims Most Consumers Want Net Neutrality Killed

from the broad-support-for-self-immolation dept

So we’ve noted time and time again how the vast majority of consumers support net neutrality, and the current rules on the books protecting it. Survey after survey (including several from the telecom industry itself) have found net neutrality has broad, bipartisan support. To try and undermine this reality, ISPs have spent more than a decade trying to frame the desire for a healthy, competitive internet — free of entrenched gatekeeper control — as a partisan debate. And they’ve largely been successful at it, sowing division and derailing discourse on a subject that, in reality, isn’t all that controversial in the eyes of the Comcast-loathing public.

This was highlighted again this week, when a broadband industry-funded study found that 98.5% of the original comments filed with the FCC oppose the agency’s plan to kill net neutrality. Of the original, unique comments filed with the FCC (people that took the time to write out their thoughts instead of just signing a form letter), 1.52 million said they opposed the FCC’s plan, compared with the 23,000 individuals that think gutting consumer protections was a nifty idea. Again, there’s no debate here: the public (which the FCC is supposed to represent) viciously opposes this plan to dismantle Title II, and by proxy, the net neutrality rules.

Large ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have used every trick in the book to try and distort this reality, from publishing videos claiming that nobody’s trying to kill net neutrality, to actively trying to con their own users into supporting gutting the essential protections. Shortly after this week’s latest study was published, AT&T got right to work blatantly lying about what the study said, insisting that most of the “legitimate” comments filed with the FCC support killing net neutrality protections:

“While Title II proponents may claim that millions of consumers representing the large majority of commenters support Title II, in fact, most of these comments were not legitimate. And when only legitimate comments are considered, the large majority of commenters oppose Title II regulation of Internet access.”

Again, that’s a blatant lie, and the study AT&T helped fund actually found the exact opposite. But you’ll notice a new AT&T tactic here: raising doubts about the integrity of the FCC commenting system to try and downplay genuine public opposition to the FCC’s plan. As we’ve noted several times, someone has been filling the FCC comment system with fraudulent comments, using a bot to fill the proceeding alphabetically with bogus individuals (in some cases deceased). And the FCC has made it abundantly clear it has absolutely no interest in doing anything about it, though these fake comments are easy to single out.

Now it’s entirely possible that someone is just trolling the entire proceeding, thought it would be fun to stuff the system with millions of fraudulent comments, and the FCC and large ISPs are simply taking advantage. But given recent history, and the shenanigans that have riddled this debate for years, the idea that this is a concerted, coordinated effort to downplay the will of the public can’t be ruled out.

After all, this is an FCC that was willing to completely manufacture a DDoS attack just to try and downplay public anger, and is being sued for refusing to release details on its meetings with ISPs on this subject. And AT&T’s recent history involves getting busted for ripping off taxpayers, tricking its customer base into opposing net neutrality, turning a blind eye to drug dealers running directory assistance scams on AT&T’s own customers, and actively making bills more confusing to aid scrammers, so you can determine for yourself whether this type of strategy lies within AT&T’s lobbying and policy wheelhouse.

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Comments on “AT&T Blatantly Lies, Claims Most Consumers Want Net Neutrality Killed”

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fremont says:

get a neutral 3rd party

“Now it’s entirely possible that someone is just trolling the entire proceeding, thought it would be fun to stuff the system with millions of fraudulent comments…”


Yes, and in fairness you should also admit that: ” it’s entirely possible that some Net-Neutrality-advocates are stuffing the system with millions of fraudulent comments”.
This seems more likely than random pranksters because the tech-community heavily & actively favors net-neutrality and has the ready skills to stuff the FCC comment box.

A neutral 3rd party is needed to count the actual comments and judge their validity. That should be possible and practical — what stops that from happening now ??

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: get a neutral 3rd party

“it’s entirely possible that some Net-Neutrality-advocates are stuffing the system with millions of fraudulent comments”.

That must be a very scientific poll there, you know … where they obtain responses from a statistically broad swath of people in order to represent the entire population without having to ask everyone.

If one suspects the comment section has been subjected to people “stuffing the system” then how can they then use said tainted data in their conclusions? Sounds like someone is full of bullshit here.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: get a neutral 3rd party

A neutral 3rd party is needed to count the actual comments and judge their validity. That should be possible and practical — what stops that from happening now ??

It doesn’t even have to be neutral. As the second paragraph notes, even a study funded by the broadband industry found that 98.5% of unique comments favored Title II.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

As I mentioned in the other post, AT$T seems to be basing their claim off of Broadband for America’s misinterpretation of the survey results.

They arrive at their backwards conclusion that “69.9% of legitimate comments support repealing Title II” through a creative definition of what “legitimate” means:

The “uniqueness” of a comment is irrelevant. Our analysis of the contact info the comment was submitted with is the only thing that matters.

Are you a human who carefully crafted an original comment with the hopes that someone might read it? Sorry, but if you used an ephemeral email such as or other “unverifiable” email address to protect your personal email from being scraped off the site, you’re considered to be an “obviously fake, questionable, fictitious source” so your comment must be thrown out.

Are you a spambot using stolen credentials to post the same single anti-NN comment hundreds of thousands of times? Well, since you’re using “real” emails and contact info, we obviously can’t exclude your comments just for that.

Anonymous Coward says:

there isn’t a single, large ISP that isn’t lying about what the public wants or what is best for the public! unfortunately, this is the norm for all US industries and even more unfortunate that in the majority of cases, the politicians who are supposed to be representing the people, the ones who voted them into their positions, are more concerned with lining their own pockets and if that means doing whatever they can to get ‘contributions’ from whichever industry demands the help at the time, they give it and fuck the public!!

Machin Shin says:

Re: Don't be part of the problem.

So what do you suggest for those people who don’t have any other options for internet? Just cancel it and live without?

Or if they have a choice maybe switch to the cable provider who is just as bad if not worse?

I am required to have internet for my job. So I can’t just cut it off. That is a big part of the problem. Internet is almost as important as having power in your house these days. Sure you can technically live without it….. but in most cases that really isn’t an option.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Don't be part of the problem.

Right. Lose job = spend money wisely. Good plan. I suppose people should suffer or die because the healthcare and insurance industries are due for some wallet-voting too?

You know, another thing is that some people do go without, for reasons like this. But one cannot go without everything and expect to function. We’d also have a different kind of disaster on our hands if everyone tried to move into caves and forests.

Life is somewhat better, although we are just as captive as we were in the good old days with Carnegie and his ilk. But things must have been great then with so little regulation and applicable law, eh?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Don't be part of the problem.

The internet is NOT a necessity to live and get by

Unless you happen to need the Internet for a work-at-home job. Or you need it to stay in touch with family and friends. Or you need it to keep up-to-date with a specific type of information that changes on an hour-to-hour or even minute-by-minute basis.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Don't be part of the problem.

Or you are ignoring the “in this case”, making rationality or lack thereof a two-way street.

In any case, you are the one bringing “a necessity to live” into this. Some are arguing that certain jobs exclude based on the criteria and since it can cause loss of employment, given the example (talking against a plausible existance of an exception to your worldview is ignorance.)

Several different people are arguing with your lack of acknowledgement about the issue, which the different names should also imply.

William Braunfeld (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 None of this is 'equitable'

But if you meant ‘equivalent,’ then you’re not paying attention to what he said. No, going without internet service isn’t the same as losing one’s job; but his whole point was that going without internet service WOULD LEAD TO losing his job. They’re not equivalent, they’re a procession of cause and effect.
This is what people are trying to explain: You CAN go without water, you CAN go without electricity, you CAN go without automotive transportation, but these things are so central to our modern lives that going without them is not a REALISTIC option, even if it is a REAL option we do have. The contention here is that internet has reached the same level of importance and ubiquity in modern life.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re: Don't be part of the problem.

Ok, So in my area I have two options. I can go with the local DSL or Cable. Both are horrible companies, both give zero care for users.

You say I should be doing something about this other than trying to work the political system. What do you suggest?

Cut the internet and loose my job? That will sure fix everything!

Maybe I should start my own ISP! Awesome idea! Except I live in a state that has laws to prevent me from doing that even if I did have a few million hidden away in my mattress.

So please, lets hear it. What is this great solution you have? Obviously you must have some better idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Don't be part of the problem.

Doing the right thing is usually not the easiest one. Which is why I also understand the desire to get a politician to get involved, the problem is they are easier to pay off than you are because they have no vested interest in serving your needs and wants.

by yourself, you can do nothing. Together we could all turn off our internet and tell congress and the ISP to fuck off. If we actually formed a Union where all promised to never buy any service that does not respect the customer even if they have to go without, then a lot of problems would be solved. This is also called free market, but the requirements for a free market is for people to have the grit necessary to say no, instead of bending over.

However, people do not like this because accepting responsibility for our actions is a weakness for all humans. We would instead, prefer to appoint people to a problem, and then blame them for not solving it.

It is generally understood as, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I don’t think it is a stretch to point out that politicians are NOT doing their jobs. They are easy to buy, and regularly lie to the citizens and completely get by with it because we are all more worried about which party they are from instead of the merits of the words they utter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Don't be part of the problem.

Well, anything can become political institute.

the difference is that a union cannot arrest you for not doing what it wants, it can only threaten to use its “willing” participants to hold its money from your business.

The law is a different story. The law is enforce through only one mechanism… violence! If someone does not do what the law wants eventually someone(s) shows up with a gun to make you!

stderric (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Don't be part of the problem.

That was hyperbole, and there’s no discussing things with an absolutist (as is made obvious in the threads above). I think the only problem, however, is that you lack a few tools; I’d be happy to loan you some extras outta my bag if you’d ever like to be constructive 😉

(The terminal emoticon is generally accepted to mean ‘but take your meds first, please’.)

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Don't be part of the problem.

You realize our government is kind of supposed to be this union your talking about? Enough of us get together and say we have had enough, the government then enforces that demand.

The real issue is that most people don’t give a shit. They don’t know enough about technology and what is happening to care and they have zero interest in learning. So how are we supposed to get enough together to matter.

Even more to the point. “I’m pissed so I am canceling my internet service and organizing a protest! Let me just go tell all my friends on facebook…. no wait… Let me e-mail… no.. I’ll post a blog… well fuck….”

In today’s world you really think your going to organize a meaningful protest using what? Snail mail? Phone calls? Oh wait… you shouldn’t have a phone either. So yeah, lets see you organize the population with snail mail?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Feel free to put your words into action

As I always say in these instances: You first.

Machin Shin has made it clear that no internet = no job, meaning you’re claiming they’re not ‘accepting responsibility’ by not giving up their job, and you brushed it aside with a ‘well doing the right thing isn’t easy’.

If doing without is so easy, show us how it’s done first. Go entirely without the internet for at least a month. Cancel service(feel free to call in and tell them that you’ll only reactive it when they bow down to your demands and record how long they laugh), don’t do business with any individual or company that uses the internet, don’t use anyone else’s connection, do without completely.

Do that and people might take you more seriously when you claim that it’s not that big of a sacrifice, though given you’re willing to say that giving up your job isn’t that big of a deal it’s likely not going to improve your argument too much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Don't be part of the problem.

Not everyone has the benefit of being born an asshole, among a group of friends who are willing to overlook oneself being an asshole, or qualify oneself an existence without graduating from high school like yourself.

Realistically, your supposed “solutions” are little more than privileges that others have graciously chosen to afford you with. You’re not really in a position to tell people what they can and can’t do without.

ECA (profile) says:


Its funny that a corporation can say ANYTHING, and not be taken to court to PROVE FACTS..

In the past, there was an IDEA to treat Corps as PEOPLE..
I SAID YES, we can take them to court for Untruths.
Lets do it..

I will give 1 truth..MOST of the USA laws were created YEARS AGO..and most had specifics of Value to CHARGE a company or Corp for loosing a Court battle. Those forfeitures , NOW, tend to be a drop in the bucket..
Charging Enron, Anything less then 1/2 there Profit line in a year..Has no meaning.
Our Government has been CUT BACK so much, they cant Track down and do much of Anything for keep corps DOING THE RIGHT THING..

ECA (profile) says:



I wonder, about multiple corps all backing 1 idea, and Stating a LIE..
Isnt this a type of conspiracy??

It is a way to circumvent Laws and rules on the books, mostly about competition and monopolies..also its Against the people as a blatant lie..
I would LOVE them to PROVE their point.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Out of curiosity, would you have been similarly dismissive had the numbers gone the other way? Had even a majority, nevermind an overwhelming majority submitted comments in favor of scrapping the rules would you have been dismissing them as ‘not evidence that the public is against the rules’?

It’s not a lie in the slightest to point out that of the people who submitted comments almost all of them were in favor of the current rules, with almost none against them.

MyNameHere (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Self selecting surveys of any sort, no matter the outcome, are always suspect.

Opinion polls run on CNN, Fox, and perhaps Alex Jones site would likely give you three completely different results, and those results would be skewed by who actually visits their sites. Are any of them right? Probably not.

“It’s not a lie in the slightest to point out that of the people who submitted comments almost all of them were in favor of the current rules, with almost none against them.”

No, but it’s a lie to try to make it sound like all consumers feel the same way. 98.5% of the population did not comment, so it’s more reasonable to draw the conclusion of apathy, and nothing else.

See, the issue is one typical of Techdirt: Take the truth (98.5% of all comment writers support NN), modify it very slightly so that it’s “truthy” (98.5% of consumers writing comments support NN), and then evolve it a bit further to make it “proof” of your point (98.5% of consumers support NN). There is a shades of grey process here where it’s hard to point at the moment when it became dishonest, especially if you have to track back through multiple self-referencing stories.

Basically, Karl left the idea dangling, and in the future, this story is likely to be referenced to show that clearly consumers (98.5% of them!) approve NN. I am just trying to point out that the data does not support it. IN fact, one of the surveys is done by Mozilla… using online participants. Hmmm!

So yeah, I am often critical of surveys were the sample group isn’t representative of the population as a whole, especially when it’s filled with people who are mostly active and engaged on the topic.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

We’re not talking about an ‘opinion’ poll run by a private news agency though, but one run by a major government agency, open to anyone in the country and who could have learned about it from any number of sources, pro and anti-network neutrality. That given this almost all of the comments are pro would seem to strongly indicated that that anti side could get barely anyone to submit a comment in their favor.

We’re also not talking about one poll or request for public opinion. Poll, after study, after survey have all come to similar results: the public in general, regardless of party, is in favor of network neutrality. When multiple sources of data all converge on the same answer it’s generally considered fairly safe to treat it as accurate.

(The following numbers are going to be a little rough, but I’ve tried to keep them as accurate as I can)

Again, by the standards you seem to be proposing any poll or request for input from the public where less than at least a majority of eligible US citizens(so roughly 160 million for any request for comments that doesn’t have an age requirement) simply wouldn’t count, which sets the bar incredibly high(for context, the 2016 US presidential election would have only just meet that criteria, passing the majority point by 3% with one-hundred and twenty-eight million out of two-hundred and forty-two million eligible voters).

Unless you want to make answering such polls mandatory you’re likely never going to get a majority of people to answer, so if you set the bar that high then you might as well not even bother.


2015 population numbers, including age

2016 population estimate

2016 voting numbers

MyNameHere (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

A request for public opinion isn’t a poll, and one cannot deduce of infer the opinion of the entire population based on it. The people who comment choose to do so because the topic interests them, and nothing else. So those who choose to comment are more involved in the topic at hand.

It’s not a question of numbers (majority). It’s a question of cross section and representation of the entire population. This self selecting poll / public opinion request doesn’t come close to hitting the mark, because the people answering are likely to be from a smaller demographic group. It doesn’t match the greater population in makeup or distribution, which means you cannot make “general population” conclusions based on it.

Majority isn’t the issue.

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