AT&T has "asked' its employees to fake it in the fight against Net Neutrality.
The company’s top policy officer sent a memo to workers on Monday urging them to hide their company affiliation before posting anti-Net Neutrality comments to the Federal Communication Commission’s Web site.
"We encourage you, your family and friends to join the voices telling the FCC not to regulate the Internet," AT&T Senior Executive Vice President James Cicconi wrote in an internal communiqué forwarded to Free Press (and posted here). "It can be done through a personal e-mail account by going to www.openinternet.gov and clicking on the ‘Join the Discussion’ link."
On Thursday, the FCC will vote to proceed on a rulemaking process that will establish the Net Neutrality rules that millions of Americans have been fighting for since 2005.
And AT&T is going crazy at the prospect of an Internet that they can't control. The memo to AT&T employees, coming from one of the company’s most senior executives, would be hard to think of as merely a suggestion.
If that weren’t bad enough, Cicconi urges them to choose from a list of talking points sanctioned by the PR department -- fearful perhaps of what employees might say if they went off script.
Some of the talking points are hard to read without rolling your eyes.
For example: Cicconi suggests that employees write that Net Neutrality will “jeopardize efforts to deliver high-speed Internet services to every American.” Yet he’s unable to provide any rationale for this claim, other than saying that universal access is a goal that “can't be met with rules that halt private investment in broadband infrastructure.”
AT&T is loath to mention that it made considerable network investment when it had to abide by Net Neutrality conditions, and invested considerably less when it didn’t.
As a requirement of its 2006 merger with BellSouth, AT&T agreed to operate a neutral network (by adhering to the four principles of the FCC’s Internet Policy Statement as well as a fifth principle of nondiscrimination) for two years.
AT&T’s network investments increased immediately following the imposition of the Net Neutrality merger condition and continued to rise over the two years of the merger agreement. When the neutrality condition expired on Dec. 29, 2008, the company sharply reduced its investment.
So when Cicconi says that Net Neutrality means no buildout, the opposite is true.
By pressuring the company’s employees to pose as average citizens and post AT&T talking points, Cicconi is asking them to be doubly deceptive. Not only are they asked to hide their true identities but also to spread misinformation on behalf of a company that seems to be getting more desperate by the day.