Speaking of censorship, what are we to make of Free Press’ censorship of hostile opinions on its “Save the Internet” blog? Clearly, they have the right to remove any comment they want to remove, but it’s normal to leave behind some admission that a comment has been censored and why. Here are three comments Brett Glass left on the STI blog that were all silently erased:
Censored Comment #1 (in response to http://www.savetheinternet.com/blog/2008/07/09/what-comcast-wants/ ):
â€œminmax2kâ€, you appear to be a victim of this siteâ€™s poorly written blog software, which managed to include the period at the end of a sentence in the URL that it converted into a link. The correct URL (and Iâ€™m putting it on a separate line with no punctuation in the hope that it is not mangled in some other fashion) is
In any event, the public does not know for sure who is backing Free Press, or whether they are indeed â€œgrass rootsâ€ at all, because Free Press has refused to disclose its contributorsâ€™ identities. However, while the names have been redacted from their Form 990s, the amounts were not Â and from this we see that they received one contribution of $300,000 (clearly NOT from the grass roots, though we do not currently know what corporation might have been this generous) and quite a few of more than $10,000. Few individuals have that much cash to give to one group, so most of these are almost certainly from corporations, though whether they were for-profit or non-profit one cannot tell.
Clearly, there are big, well monied players involved here, so donâ€™t be fooled by the â€œastroturf.â€
And, yes, inside-the-Beltway lobbyists are most often self-interested, or serving the interests of a particular constituency, despite their claim to be acting in the â€œpublic interest.â€ Take, for example, Jack Abramoff Â who was, he said, just advocating the interests of a few worthy Native American tribes. Itâ€™s important always to maintain a healthy skepticism.
And I am by no means calling Comcast an ideal model of corporate ethics and decency; they arenâ€™t. However, Free Press, by lobbying to regulate ALL Internet providers (of which Comcast is only one), might make Comcast sting just a little Â while causing consumers to hurt a LOT. Want to lose your broadband options Â or maybe lose your broadband altogether? Or see your broadband bill triple? If Free Press gets its way, itâ€™s not only possible but probable.
â€œsplendidmikeâ€: Our ISP does get glowing remarks from customers. The only ones who might not make such remarks, in fact, are the ones who want to hog bandwidth or take over our network using P2P software. We donâ€™t let them do thatâ€¦. And by preventing them from doing so we are able to ensure that everyone else enjoys great service.
And â€œu235Sentinelâ€: If you want to be able to â€œfireâ€ Comcast and pick a better provider, you should not support Free Pressâ€™ agenda or its petition to the FCC. Why? Because their agenda would be more harmful to Comcastâ€™s competitors than to Comcast. Youâ€™d likely be left with a choice of just the phone company and the cable company Â if that. To understand why, see the link above.
Censored Comment #2 (in response to http://www.savetheinternet.com/blog/2008/07/11/net-users-band-together-stop-comcast-and-win-one-for-net-neutrality/):
As Free Press engages in gloating, premature declarations of â€œvictoryâ€ (the public is not privy to the proposed ruling, so there is no way for Free Press to know what is actually being proposed among the Commissioners), the future availability of Internet and of Internet competition hangs in the balance. If Free Press gets its way, and reasonable network management practices are arbitrarily prohibited by the FCC, there will be fewer broadband providers (and hence less consumer choice), higher prices, and reduced broadband deployment. Many rural areas may lose their links to the Internet, and all consumers will suffer from increased charges and lower quality of service. And the camelâ€™s nose of regulation will be allowed into the Internet â€œtentâ€ Â paving the way for government censorship of content.
Itâ€™s time for members of the public to speak up before any of these potential untoward effects come to pass. Call the Commissioners Â especially the office of Chairman Martin at 202-418-1000, Commissioner Michael Copps at 202-418-2000, and Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein at 202-418-2300. Tell them not to regulate the Internet Â and especially not to restrict your broadband choices or ability to get broadband by passing stifling regulation.
Censored Comment #3 (in response to http://www.savetheinternet.com/blog/2008/07/14/beware-of-cable-guys-making-promises/):
We must be just as wary of the profit motives of lobbyists as of the profit motives of other businesses. No one is censoring the Internet; Free Press has fabricated scare stories about Internet censorship so that it can frighten the public (and others) into paying it money to battle this imaginary straw man. The truth is that Free Pressâ€™ regulatory agenda would wipe out small and independent ISPs, leaving only the cable companies and the telephone companies in the Internet business. Would you like to have a real choice of broadband providers, or only a choice between two monopolies? Before you believe the rhetoric on this Web site, learn more. See my testimony before the FCC at http://www.brettglass.com/FCC/remarks.html and also the â€œHands off the Internetâ€ blog at http://handsoff.org/blog/.
To paraphrase Lessig: â€œLobbyists have a nature. It is not one that you would trust with the future of your country.â€