Say That Again

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
comments, fcc, lies, net neutrality

Companies:
at&t



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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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2017 @ 9:22am

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

    That's right! Consumers should never have to bear the responsibility of spending their money wisely.

    As long as you expect a politician to do something that you should be doing, you get what you deserve!

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