Boy, when the cable companies and telecoms astroturf, they really astoturf. Last week, I wrote about Broadband for America and the American Consumer Institute, astroturf groups funded by industry fighting against net neutrality. Turns out, there are some actual, real, functioning community groups who are members of these astroturf organizations. And it turns out they either don't know they're part of the organizations or they were tricked into endorsing them.
What do an environmental group in Ohio, a small military radio program, and a network of rural hospitals in Texas all have in common?Then there are some really bizarre "members": the Spread Eagle Tavern & Inn, "a cozy bed and breakfast" in Ohio; a tile and roofing company in Ohio; a Virginia college scholarship program, a golf club in Oregon; and the Eastern Shore Tourism Commission.
They appear on a list of coalition members for a group pressuring the government to abandon net neutrality—rules to prevent broadband providers from creating internet fast and slow lanes—but claim they did not intend to sign up for any such advocacy. […]
Bob Calvert, the host of TalkingWithHeroes.com, a radio program listed as a Broadband for America member, told us that he is not familiar with the net neutrality debate.
"My program is a non-political program supporting our men and women who serve and who have served our country and their families," said Calvert, in response to an inquiry from VICE. […]
Another Broadband for America member, the Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals, said it had joined only to support broadband access in rural and underserved areas, not on issues relating to net neutrality or the classification of broadband as a utility[…]
Don Hollister, the executive director of the Ohio League of Conservation Voters, said he was unaware of his organization being listed as a Broadband for America member.
Each of these organizations, small as they are—and in some cases as much as they rely on their websites—has very good reason to support real net neutrality, to see the cable and telecoms reined in. They need a free and open internet to get their word out and possibly even to stay in business.
These are the lengths to which the industry will go to fight off regulation, to create an internet that's even more of a cash cow for themselves. If they'll go to these lengths to fight net neutrality, imagine what they'll do to the market if they succeed.