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This article was published on January 17, 2010


    ATT Pays Charities To Rail Against Net Neutrality?

    ATT Pays Charities To Rail Against Net Neutrality?
    Michael Klurfeld
    Story by

    Michael Klurfeld

    Michael Klurfeld is a Chicago-based musician and technologist specializing in legal happenings and public policy. You can find him on Twitte Michael Klurfeld is a Chicago-based musician and technologist specializing in legal happenings and public policy. You can find him on Twitter here, or send him an email here.

    ATT-bribes-charitesSince the FCC’s decision to adopt official Net Neutrality regulations, there have been over 13,000 responses from everyone who decided that they had something to say.

    Some of the stranger commentors were various groups which one would expect to be incredibly disinterested, such as the Kankakee County Farm Bureau and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties. It seems that these and other organizations are receiving donations from AT&T in exchange for submitting negative feedback about the concept of government-regulated Net Neutrality. Take one Schaumburg Business Association, which wrote

    We urge you to adopt a plan that encourages investment by the private sector and promotes 100 percent broadband adoption as the top priority of your Broadband Plan.

    This can be read another way: “Please, give more money to ISPs like AT&T. They’ll do their best to give fair broadband for everyone, I swear.”

    To be blunt, this is a load of horsecrap. These groups have spent absolutely zero time thinking about Net Neutrality, so their input is purely what AT&T wanted them to say. I can assure you that Big Brothers/Big Sisters doesn’t actually believe that Net Neutrality will interfere with the “competitive marketplace” in which ISPs operate (fun fact: there is practically zero competition in the ISP market; unless you’re some sort of crazed activist, you’ll pay for whichever is fastest in your area).

    Sadly, this is often how political issues are resolved: someone with a lot of money pays someone else to do what he wants. But let’s give AT&T some credit here, as they decided to go with a stealthier form of lobbying. Though a lot of money did get into the hands of shady politicians, such as the Mayor of North Chicago (who is both a Net Neutrality opponent and former AT&T employee).