That the shills have circled alone should be evidence that something here doesn't quite smell right. That this group is little known to the established consumer groups that form the SavetheInternet.com Coalition should set off every olfactory alarm.
Sock Puppet Alert:
"We had no idea that Net Neutrality -- the concept of preventing Internet providers from speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination -- would be so devastating to consumers," Williams writes in a sincerity-laced response to the American Consumer Institute's report against Net Neutrality.
"Like nearly every other major consumer group, we here at Consumers Union have been under the impression that Net Neutrality would actually benefit consumers."
The ACI report claims that protecting Net Neutrality would "force millions of Americans to drop their broadband subscriptions." It says that this would amount to $69 billion (Not $68 billion. Not $70 billion. $69 billion!) in lost benefits to consumers.
It was the name of the report's author that caused Williams' nose to twitch:
The contact name on the American Consumer Institute press release was Stephen Pociask. The name rang a bell with us, but we weren't sure why. But a quick Google search jogged our memory. Pociask is a telecommunications industry consultant and a former chief economist for Bell Atlantic, which these days is known as Verizon.I went to the ACI site to confirm. Pociask's bio was posted by ACI, but surpisingly they failed to mention his work as a telco's chief economist.
How can that be? The American Consumer Institute claims that they do not accept any financial support from corporations. "We only accept assistance from individual consumers and consumer groups," they claim. "The Institute depends on volunteers, particularly those with significant public policy expertise."
I'm curious. Who might these contributing "consumer groups" be? And do THEY accept money from corporations. Also, if ACI isn't paying their "volunteers," who is?
A quick online check reveals that the ACI's Web site is actually registered to the same Stephen Pociask, who still works in the telecom industry as a paid consultant.
ACI describes itself as "an independent consumer organization dedicated to improving the lives of American consumers." But its list of experts includes people with deep ties to the telecommunications industry.
Broadband Reports dug a little further and concluded that reports like ACI's "are ultimately gobbled up by lazy journalists for injection into the broader discourse as objective fact."