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Who Knew Senior Citizens Hated Net Neutrality?
'XYZ Organization' magically shares AT&T's lobbying positions
by Karl Bode 04:17PM Thursday Oct 22 2009
We've long criticized the broadband industry's biggest companies for their unethical practices when it comes to DC lobbying, from the creation of artificial consumer groups, to the "co-opting" of legitimate groups who parrot anti-consumer phone or cable company lobbying positions for donations. While with one hand AT&T and Verizon are busy publicly throwing their support behind the FCC's new neutrality rules, with the other hand they're doing things like scaring their employees into flooding the FCC comment system from their home e-mail addresses, or using fake and/or hijacked organizations to bombard the FCC with complaints.

The companies AT&T, Verizon and Comcast hire to run these kinds of modern disinformation operations (and win "ethics awards" for doing it) are usually fairly slick outfits, using a combination of fake consumer groups, compromised real consumer groups, and regular lobbyists to create the illusion of broad support for corporate positions. Usually this is done without the press or public noticing the men behind the curtain, but occasionally they screw up. Take for instance this letter from the "Arkansas Retired Seniors Coalition" to the FCC opposing neutrality:
quote:
Access to a robust, reliable Internet has become an important component in the day-to-day lives of many seniors in Arkansas; consequently, the elderly community here is concerned about the proposed rule making on net neutrality. XYZ organization shares this concern. The FCC's actions relating to net neutrality could have a profound impact on our constituency's ability to access and adopt high-speed internet, creating yet another barrier for us to overcome.
Note how the seemingly non-existent organization forgot to remove the stock "XYZ organization" from the form letter provided to them by lobbyists. Of course there's dozens upon dozens of similar groups flooding the FCC with essentially the same letter, including Stallworth Lumber Company, United Way of the Capital Area, and Graham Transfer & Storage. This letter from Northrup Grumman Shipbuilding (Shipbuilding??) parrots all of AT&T's lobbying positions, but it forgets to remove the "Governor/PUC Letters to FCC on Net Neutrality" header, indicating that the FCC essentially got the same form letter as everybody else.

It's one thing for small companies who pal about with AT&T on their home state golf courses to parrot AT&T positions, but it's rather unfortunate when supposedly legitimate consumer, minority or disability groups (like the National Association For the Deaf, the NAACP or the once-relevant National Consumer's League) sell out their constituents by undermining consumer interests on AT&T's behalf. Almost as bad is the fact that money that could be spent on network infrastructure often instead goes to the creation of bogus consumer groups (many of which are included in the broadband industry's latest lobbying coalition) who fight against consumers.

Whether you support network neutrality rules or not, this kind of pseudo-consumer skulduggery is particularly greasy, and it's something that needs to change if we're ever going to have a genuine, useful conversation about broadband policy issues.

Update: One user writes in to note that the Bob Sells cited as the head of the "Arkansas Retired Seniors Coalition" was a Southwestern Bell public relations employee for nearly thirty years.

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axiomatic

join:2006-08-23
Tomball, TX

1 recommendation

absolutes?

nothing more to say here than: "absolute power corrupts absolutely"

ZappaF

@cwa-union.org

1 recommendation

DSL Reports Scoops Major Press Outlets

This story just goes to show, folks like Karl, who actually do reporting and reading, are light years ahead of the "mainstream" press. These letters, judging from their date, have been available for many days. Yet this is the first time this "XYZ" nonsense was mentioned anywhere.

PapaMidnight

join:2009-01-13
Baltimore, MD

Re: DSL Reports Scoops Major Press Outlets

said by ZappaF :

This story just goes to show, folks like Karl, who actually do reporting and reading, are light years ahead of the "mainstream" press. These letters, judging from their date, have been available for many days. Yet this is the first time this "XYZ" nonsense was mentioned anywhere.
No, Karl is just doing what every good journalist has done for the past few centuries. The others just regressed.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
The mainstream press these days is owned by the large conglomerates. Unfortunately mainstream "News" (TV and even newspapers in many ways) has become "Entertainment" and in today's attention-deficit society they just serve up headlines and soundbites. Sometimes you can get more information by surfing around the net and reading articles, but that too is polluted by blogosphere nonsense, editorials and opinion disguised as factual reporting, and even all out falsehood and total wackiness, as well as paid for spin parading as truth...

You know, you'd be AMAZED at how often Press Releases are simply reported almost verbatim as if they were absolute fact, and not the company's best spin on things. Virtually cut and paste!
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
caco
Premium
join:2005-03-10
Whittier, AK

1 edit

Bob Sells must be related to this guy.

»This was in the comment section of WSJ piece
--
»www.seabee.navy.mil

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: Bob Sells must be related to this guy.

Well, it turns out old Bob was a Bell PR guy for nearly thirty years:

»www.journalism.missouri.edu/news···lly.html

janet

@rogers.com

Dividends and Unions

AT&T shareholders get a steady dividend every quarter (so is every other utility company on earth). People who invest in utility stocks are risk-adverse senior citizens. Google and Apple shareholders are high risk high tech investors --- young people.

AT&T (and other utilities) have many unionized workers. Google and Apple have young non-unionized workers. That is why over 70 democrats have opposed the net neutrality plan so far --- democrats needs unions.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

1 recommendation

Re: Dividends and Unions

That is why over 70 democrats have opposed the net neutrality plan so far --- democrats needs unions.
Well that or they were simply paid to:
All but two of the 72 Democratic lawmakers who cautioned last Friday against open-Internet rules have received campaign donations this year from Internet service providers, the companies most likely to be impacted by new regulations.

For their most recent election campaigns, the House members received a total of more than $405,000 from the nation's largest carriers, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and the trade associations representing them.
Phillip
I Need A Nap

join:2004-12-21
Hatboro, PA

Re: Dividends and Unions

Yea and those campaign contributions will be keeped by those two when they retire.

There is not a single person in office, republican or democrat that give a rats ass about us, but only what they can keep for themselves.

In the end they only people that will win out of this are the corporate officers.
phuntism

join:2003-08-01
Manhattan Beach, CA

Re: Dividends and Unions

said by Phillip:

There is not a single person in office, republican or democrat that give a rats ass about us, but only what they can keep for themselves.
I question your extreme cynicism, but I do appreciate your bipartisanship!

Bill Dollar

join:2009-02-20
New York, NY

Follow the Trail Further

OK, it is obvious some DC lobby shop was behind this. But if some enterprising reporter could find out which shop, and then tie AT&T to this directly, maybe, just maybe this could blow up the way the comcast-seat filler scandal did.

These clowns need to be publicly shamed.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: Follow the Trail Further

It starts to get very difficult to. These groups operate almost like intelligence organizations and keep a tight lid on things.

My guess is that these letters are either the product of The LawMedia Group or Sam Simon's Amplify Public Affairs, but it's not like these guys leave a clean paper trail, and given that K-Street disinformation is such a big business, there's likely other companies who do this stuff who are even more secretive.

That's not to say I'm not still looking.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
said by Bill Dollar:

just maybe this could blow up the way the comcast-seat filler scandal did.
I'll bet if you asked 100 Americans on the street about the Comcast "Seat Filler" scandal, they'd say....

"Huh?"
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

Z80
1 point 77
Premium
join:2009-08-31
Amerika

Ah

More grass that doesn't die in the dark.

nixen
Rockin' the Boxen
Premium
join:2002-10-04
Alexandria, VA

Subtle Knifing

Who knows, maybe these "accidents" weren't accidents. Perhaps they took the money, sent the letter that they were required to, but made it obvious that the letters were turfing?

Meh. Too much to hope for and is too optimistic about the ethics of organizations that receive monies.
--
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. -- Bertrand Russell

Rogue Wolf
Mourns the Loss of lilhurricane

join:2003-08-12
Troy, NY

1 recommendation

Re: Subtle Knifing

"Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence." -Napoleon Bonaparte
--
Hexadecimal humor really turns me 0FF.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

1 edit

Re: Subtle Knifing



"Heinlein's Razor"....

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice."
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

batageek
Slave To The Duopoly
Premium
join:2003-01-25

revenge

60529262

join:2007-01-11
Chicago, IL

Good Thing John McCain is coming to their rescue

Looks like McCain is going to attempt to take away the FCC's authority to regulate the Internet if Net Neutrality comes to pass. His “The Internet Freedom Act of 2009”, would negate the whole thing.

»mccain.senate.gov/public/index.c···ssue_id=

karlmarx

join:2006-09-18
Chicago, IL

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: Good Thing John McCain is coming to their rescue

Yes, Everyone will tell you that all those countries that 'regulate' the internet, like Japan, Korea, Netherlands, well, they all suffer from horrible speeds and outrageous prices! McNain doesn't believe that ANY regulation is good regulation. That means that all those countries that get 5 times the speed at 1/5th the price, well, they are all doomed to suffer a horrible economic collapse because of it.

Look at the NUMBERS. The countries that HAVE a high-speed POLICY in place, HAVE FASTER SPEEDS, LOWER PRICES, AND NO CAPS. Guess what, the REST of the world has REALIZED that internet access is a tool for the PEOPLE of their countries, NOT A CASH COW for a megacorp. As long as the right wing nut cases refuse to look at the success of all those countries that FAR BETTER internet access than what you can get in the US, and feed from the lobby trough, the US will continue to fall in our 'competitive' war.
--
The happiest countries are the most secular. The struggle AGAINST corporations is the struggle FOR humanity!

TKJunkMail
Premium
join:2005-12-09

Re: Good Thing John McCain is coming to their rescue

said by karlmarx:

like our resident right wing nut case
Gee, I wonder who that would be...

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
We're trying to get a policy. Problem is it's a pro-big-business, very anti-competitive, anti-Internet-Freedom, and very anti-consumer policy. /angry
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
That's another way these things are done. You name something the exact opposite of what it does.

For example, some proposal for by the byte billing and major overage charges would be called something like "The Internet Freedom and Consumer Fairness Policy" or some other crap.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

halo5

join:2000-07-20
Dayton, OH

It's a Marxist plot!!!

Glenn Beck and Faux say net neutrality is eeeeevvviiillll!

»gawker.com/5387076/glenn-beck-ne···ist-plot

Too funny. But I'm sure those lies are helping fan the flames.

TKJunkMail
Premium
join:2005-12-09

Re: It's a Marxist plot!!!

He's on Fox News. Go figure...

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
Great. Just what we need. These guys muddying the waters and uniting the Republican masses to destroy our own future. I swear sometimes the public is played like a fiddle.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

1 edit

Pot, kettle, black

Google's lobbying group "Free Press" has been spamming FCC dockets with "astroturf" lobbying for onerous "network neturality" regulation for years. The difference is that these AT&T employees really do stand to be harmed by pointless, completely unnecessary regulation, so their complaints are NOT astroturf.

Kuls

@rr.com

Alltell Lobbyist Linked to Coalition Address

After digging around for a little bit, I found this little gem on the registered lobbyist list in Arkansas.

Cecil Alexander resides in the Treetops apartment complex and is registered as a lobbyist for Alltell. 1 Treetops is the address cited for the Arkansas Retired Seniors Coalition. Strange coincidence.

»www.sosweb.state.ar.us/elections···6-03.pdf

(search the pdf for treetops)

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Hope You Love Your Caps

When the net neutrality people whined to Comcast about them giving priority to certain types of traffic over others, Comcast responded by imposing a monthly usage cap, thus equally "managing" all types of traffic.

We've seen non-wireless ISPs attempt to impose ridiculously low caps that would make the Internet useful to no one. Like it or not, certain types of Internet traffic can and should be prioritized over other types, and removing the right of an ISP to do this is going to result in even more ISPs imposing caps.

Do we really want to go down this path?
--
Blagojevich / Madoff 2012!
ackman

join:2000-10-04
Atlanta, GA

Thanks, Fox News

for creating a generation of ignorant, misinformed, uninformed dumba$$es, clearly the symptom highlighted by the above story. Who would have thought that so many people would hop on board the pro-corporation anti-citizen fascist bandwagon in this America "democracy".
houselog442

join:2005-10-05

Re: Thanks, Fox News

And to think, some people on here get mad at me because I have said recently that conservatives are mentally retarded, micro-cephalic, and subhuman!
ackman

join:2000-10-04
Atlanta, GA

Re: Thanks, Fox News

and my rant was actually a sideways jab at the morons who watch Fox, but clearly this story, which has been covered by MSNBC, is about lobbyists fraudulently using unsuspecting organizations' letterhead to send out scary information about Obama's desire to kill old people. Nonetheless, it's the breed of ignorance that festers in the Fox community that creates the environment for this sort of abuse.
houselog442

join:2005-10-05

Re: Thanks, Fox News

aka astroturfing!
Gentry3

join:2009-10-24
Springfield, OH

Who Knew Senior Citizens Hated Net Neutrality?

Who are the 70 or 72 House Democrats?