Who is paying uninterested people to tie up seats for FCC hearings on Net Neutrality?

February 27, 2008 | By | 7 Replies More

Was it Comcast?  Whoever it was, this tactic is disgusting.

There was huge turnout at [the Feb 25] public hearing in Boston on the future of the Internet. Hundreds of concerned citizens arrived to speak out on the importance of an open Internet. Many took the day off from work — standing outside in the Boston cold — to see the FCC Commissioners. But when they reach the door, they’re told they couldn’t come in.

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Category: Corruption, Media

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    I joined the petition through Erich's link. Until this explicit example of using an effective silent filibuster, I hadn't realized how seriously the telecom companies were about turning the internet from a free for all into a corporate-revenue-first enterprise.

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    This is exactly why the observation galleries in the House and Senate chambers have strict time limits on how long the observers are allowed to watch. The lobbyists get around the time limit by working shifts oin the gallery, and comparing notes elswhere.

    What Comcast did is a denial of service tactic adapted to the real world. They are not the first. This tactic is similar to the The Microsoft "Astroturf" campaign during the anti-trust hearings is a very high profile example. In fact the modern term for this is called "astroturfing"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    If any corporation can generate as many petition emails as a legitimate public interest group, how can one win?

  4. Dan Klarmann says:

    This post from one of the speakers to congress on Net Neutrality makes some valid counterpoints:

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=1039&tag=nl.e539 .

    Ou points out that bandwidth costs money. Normal server operators pay for their share in bandwidth. But P2P apps like BitTorrent (primarily used by Copyright violators) act as servers and can completely dominate residential uplink pipes, unless ISP's are allowed to limit them.

    Part of Net Neutrality is to have no limits on content streams. The residential cable or ADSL uplink pipe is designed primarily for page requests, occasional files, and VOIP. If a torrent from someone else is occupying your pipe, you may not even be able to request a web page, much less make a VOIP call, until it is done. So ISP's would have to spend big bucks on their infrastructure to allow normal usage to continue when P2P networks claim a major and unpaid share of bandwidth.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Dan, good point. Those who hog limited bandwidth should expect to pay more, I would think (though this raises lots of questions).

    For me, net neutrality is especially important with regard to discrimination based on content and discrimination regarding information offered by competing services. As indicated by "Save the Internet,":

    Numerous examples show that without network neutrality requirements, Internet service providers will discriminate against content and competing services they don't like.

    For some troublesome real life incidents where ISP's are discriminating based on content, see here.

    It is my firm belief that if we give corporations any power to discriminate regarding Internet use based on content, we will quickly have an Internet that is run much like corporate television and corporate radio. They'll use the same techniques, eventually, that China uses to keep it's Internet running "smoothly."

  6. Dan Klarmann says:

    People who are unaware that they are hogging bandwidth (such as BitTorrent users and infected zombie machines) are a significant part of the problem. Only the ISP has the ability to selectively prevent this sort of abusive activity that Net Neutrality prohibits them from doing.

    Can an ISP be allowed to discriminate against these borderline or explicitly rogue servers? After all, the owners of these servers (e.g: granny without anti-virus) aren't paying for the service consumed, nor are those who distribute their loads to these machines.

    I personally lean toward the open and free internet. But the question of how to police this open road should not be dominated by finding ways around prematurely passed bad laws. Remember the example of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, causing all sorts of problems both on and off the internet for almost a decade.

    The problem is that this issue is a hot topic. It can have far reaching implications and deserves a few years of rational study. But politicians have to be immediately pro-active to get elected this year.

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