Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sock Puppet Redux

panelCleland: For Net Neutrality Until He Was Against It

The SavetheInternet.com Coalition receives no support from Google, Amazon, eBay, Microsoft or other corporations. Paid industry apologists like Scott Cleland, Mike McCurry and others have leveled this accusation in an attempt to discredit the Coalition's genuine grassroots efforts and score points with their bosses. (Recommended reading)

These accusations come from individuals who are on the phone and cable company payroll with the explicit intention to undermine the concept of Net Neutrality and smear its supporters.

It's unfortunate that a payola pundit like Cleland routinely fails to come clean and disclose his considerable conflicts of interest -- or to adequately explain why statements he made while on the telco dole directly contradict statements he made prior to receiving money from AT&T.

>> Here's a prominent example of Cleland's shilling without disclosure.

This comes from a man who repeatedly claims to seek an "open debate" on Net Neutrality while selectively ignoring the mounting evidence in support of an open Internet.

Using a variety of methods, the phone and cable lobby will continue to paint issues like Net Neutrality as “unnecessary government regulations” and anti-consumer (turning a blind eye to the fact that all the major U.S. consumer advocacy groups are a part of this Coalition).

They also dismiss the groundswell of public support for this issue as the handiwork of a few “liberal groups.” (ignoring the many conservative and libertarian groups among our rank).

Now, Cleland, McCurry and crew are citing widely discredited FCC data in a feeble attempt to demonstrate that the broadband marketplace is awash with competitors. This is more industry planted propaganda designed to clear a path for the phone and cable duopoly that accounts for more than 98% of all broadband access in the U.S.

They do this as part of their bid to 1) take further control of the market for high-speed Internet access and 2) increase their multi-billion dollar profit margins by erecting new tollbooths to the content that travels over these pipes.

For a clearer picture of the state of broadband competition in the U.S., I recommend you read Broadband Reality Check, InformationWeek's comprehensive survey or David Isenberg's recent blog post on the matter. You can read some of the industry's sponsored reports on this as well -- but understand that their conclusions were drawn well before they conducted one drop of research.

The public tolerance for this type of "Astroturfing" was tested in 2006. More than 75 percent of respondents to a September CBS/New York Time poll thought that most members of Congress “are more interested in serving special interest groups” than “serving the people they represent.”

The Net Neutrality fight isn’t just between corporate Titans like Google and AT&T. It's a battle that pits the special interests of the few (phone and cable companies) against a vast grassroots effort involving Americans from every corner of society.

Please don't ignore the word-of-mouth campaign that has lifted the crucial issue of Net Neutrality from obscurity and thrown a wrench in the phone and cable giants’ plan to overhaul our telecommunications laws behind closed doors.

The debate over Net Neutrality should be a broad, public conversation about what the future of the Internet will look like. Portraying this issue as corporate infighting, overly partisan or heavy handed regulation appeases the phone companies. But this debate is about so much more.

7 comments:

Scott Cleland said...

Tim,

It's not the first time I've been called names by people who wanted to discredit me and my analysis. Among others, you share the august company of the now-imprisoned Bernie Ebbers, who routinely derided me as the "idiot analyst" because I had his number in calling "WorldCom dead model walking" before anyone else in the country figured it out. He too was mistaken that name calling and intimidation could muzzle my views.

You obviously don't understand the irony and humor of accusing me of routinely failing "to come clean and disclose his(my) considerable 'conflicts of interest'." It was precious that your link sent people to my website at netcompetition.org where I fully and prominently disclose who I work for -- the broadband industry! Thank you for making my point so eloquently for me.

I certainly have "interests" in this debate -- I very publicly represent the broadband industry in the net neutrality debate and I strongly espouse a free market deregulatory perspective.

If you would like to learn more about what the term "conflicts of interest" actually means, I would refer you to my written testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee 12-18-01 on the Enron Corporation, where I was the first outside expert asked to testify before Congress on the subject of "conflicts of interest" during that national crisis of confidence in the integrity of our capital markets system.

As for saying that I have changed my views -- you obviously have not been very thorough. I have a long public record of standing up to monopolies and monopoly abuses, because I am a well-known pro-competition, free market, law enforcement proponent. Why I have credibility on this issue is that I have consistently opposed monopoly and promoted competition during my career.

You should also know that I recruited the broadband industry to join NetCompetition; they did not seek out my services. I was first to organize the entire broadband industry to fight net neutrality because I saw it from the start as one of the worst and most direct assaults I have ever seen on free markets, competition and deregulation policy.

Why I am an effective advocate against net neutrality, is that I am passionate about my views and I care very much about the direction our country and the techcom sector take.

Tim, by attacking me personally and baselessly -- you only hurt Free Press' and Save the Internet's cause.

When you get easy-to-check facts dead wrong, and you obviously don't do your homework, people will wonder if your facts and information in support of net neutrality are suspect too.

Personal attacks say more about the merit and integrity of your net neutrality cause, than they illuminate about me.


Sincerely,
Scott Cleland
Chairman of NetCompetition.org and eforum funded by broadband companies

Timothy Karr said...

Scott. I have watched/heard you speak in the media on numerous occasions without disclosing the source of your funding.

Don't you find it the least bit dishonest to present yourself as the one balanced and honest broker on this issue while failing to disclose that you're being paid to preach only one side of the story?

Can you honestly say that you have disclosed the source of your funding in all of your public appearances? Do you deny that you once trumpeted Net Neutrality and other protections against predatory phone companies in a way that you seem incapable of doing today?

It's a shame that you have sullied your honorable record and reversed your positions in order to make a buck from the likes of AT&T and their cohorts. Do you think these near monopolies in their respective markets really want NetCompetition?

The fact that you seem willing to obediently repeat any factoid shoved your way by the industry, while disputing everything else that would suggest otherwise, indicates where your balance lies.

You can call such accusations a personal attack. But anyone claiming to have an honest and open debate of this important issue should take it upon themselves to be honest and open.

I have zero qualms about highlighting information abut you that you seem ever so reluctant to disclose.

Richard Bennett said...

Google employees give money to Moveon.org, and then Moveon.org gives money to Free Press and Save the Internet. Free Press pays Tim Karr and Ben Scott to wage the Net Neutrality battle.

Having run out of legitimate arguments, Tim Karr makes frivolous personal attacks.

So this is what network neutrality advocacy has some to.

How sad.

Timothy Karr said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Timothy Karr said...

Ahhhh, Richard Bennett. It's amusing to see you use a frivolous smear to accuse someone of a frivolous smear.

Your and Scott's attempt to stake out the moral high ground on this issue is comic.

Scott (The telco troll who makes it his mission to secret away AT&T money as he slimes everyone who opposes his [correction: AT&T's] position on this issue) teams up with Richard (the high school debate team reject who concocts lies about people who don't follow his conspiratorial views about the Internet).

Let's put aside questions about your integrity for the moment and debate your comment on it's relative merits.

1. You say, Google financially supports MoveOn. Prove it. I have raised this issue with our coalition allies at MoveOn as well as the people who work on Net Neutrality -- and are legally obligated to report their lobbying contributions -- at Google.

They scoffed at the suggestion. No where (beyond your feverish imagine) is there evidence of this collusion.

If Google employees individually decide to support MoveOn, that's there own doing. I'm sure there are Google employees who support PETA, the NRA, Right to Life and the RCP.

So what's your point? That they're being strong-armed by the boss man to empty their pockets for MoveOn? Time to remove tinfoil hat, Richard.

2. You say, MoveOn financially supports Free Press and SavetheInternet.com.

As a director of Free Press, I can tell you, legally, that MoveOn.org does not financially support us. Don't believe it? Check our filings.

All the SavetheInternet.com Coalition partners (we have more than 850 groups) contribute in-kind support to the Coalition (staff time and resources).

Aside from co-sponsoring with Free Press the coalition's SavetheInternet.com party in Memphis, MoveOn has not contributed financially to the Coalition effort and certainly not to Free Press.

3. You say, Free Press pays Tim Karr and Ben Scott. DING! DING! You're right!

Hey, batting 333 is respectable baseball, Richard, but in the world of public policy debate, such wild-eyed conspiracies are pathetic.

You must have been in hibernation these past six months, because SavetheInternet.com's "legitimate arguments" in favor of Net Neutrality have been winning the day.

Watch This

Or This

Or Read This

Or This

Or This

Then, I suggest you read the Coalition's Internet Freedom Declaration.

Advice: get on the right side of the campaign for a open, faster and more accessible Internet.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps in the long run it'll be better to lose the net neutrality battle. Telcos will put up more and more Byzantine barriers. Businesses on all sides will be fed up. There will finally be a reason for them to invest in alternatives. And the internet will run just fine on those alternatives.

Perhaps by losing this one, we'll win in the long run.

The main worry for me is that the "we" above will not include the US. There will be a mass exodus of internet activity, or should I just call that globalization and be happy? By peeing in the pool and ordering everyone to drink, telcos are just encouraging folks to swim in the ocean instead.

Kyle Stone said...

Tim,

I, for one, appreciate the stand you are taking here.

It's just too bad that the uber-corporates (ATT&T, Viacom, Bell) cannot come up with any product that offers real value to customers. If they were capable of doing so, they wouldn't need to control the internet.

Netcompetition.org is a joke. What the website advocates is NOT a free market perspective, it is an authoritarian perspective. A truly free-market internet would look like the type of meritocracy encouraged by Google's search engine: the best, most relevant information wins out.

Thanks for listening,
Kyle Stone | Editor at GovCentral