The US net neutrality fight goes on… and on
American Commitment call to action
Opponents of net neutrality in the US appear to be ramping up their campaign to keep the issue alive after the FCC decided to classify internet service provision under Title 2. If the lawsuits already filed by USTelecom (a group representing several telcos) and Alamo Broadband (see - Remember the Alamo? Texas ISP one of the first to challenge FCC's new neutrality rules) don’t have much of an impact - and FCC boss, Tom Wheeler, has gone out of his way to appear totally relaxed about their chances of success - then it seems inevitable that conservative Republican presidential candidates will soon be taking the issue into their campaigns. Stand by for more years of increasingly tedious and irrelevant point-scoring in an attempt to grab headlines.
A foretaste of how down and dirty it’s all going to get surfaced recently when a conservative ‘advocacy group’, American Commitment, said it had collected more than 540,000 signatures on a petition asking Congress to overturn the new net neutrality rules and that it had thereby assisted concerned citizens to send more than 1.5 million messages to lawmakers urging them to oppose the FCC’s action. Sources say American Commitment is at least part funded by Republican billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch.
To give you a taste of their approach here’s the page leading to the letters, (and see above) where the concerned citizen is confronted with…
“The landslide 2014 elections made crystal clear that the American people reject larger, more intrusive government. But President Obama reacted by moving even further left, ignoring the fact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is supposed to be an independent agency, and openly demanding the FCC take the most radical action imaginable: reducing the Internet to a "public utility," imposing sweeping new taxes and destroying private investment, competition, and innovation while putting bureaucrats firmly in control.”
Wow. All by formalising a prohibition on blocking, choking and commercially discriminating on the open internet, actions that the ISPs concerned all said they weren’t planning to do anyway.
American Commitment said its call to arms had elicited a huge response: the organisation had “never seen such an intense citizen response in opposition to a federal regulatory action,” said its president. So who and where are all these hundreds of thousands of anti net neutrality letter writers?
Surprise, surprise. It turns out that a number of the floods of messages to the lawmakers (purporting to be from individual lawmakers’ constituencies) may not have been.
One Democrat representative, Jackie Speier of California, had her office check on a sample of the messages she was getting and, taking care with her phraseology, said that at least some of the messages appeared to have come from people who didn’t recall sending them. So much more effective to slide the knife in gently rather than deliver a frenzied attack… don’t you think?