Richard Bennett, NANOG posting, and Integrity

Richard Bennett richard at bennett.com
Sun Jul 27 20:26:16 UTC 2014


This is one of the more clueless smears I've seen. The "astroturf" 
allegation is hilarious because it shows a lack of understanding of what 
the term means: individuals can't be "astroturf" by definition; it takes 
an organization.

Groups like Free Press are arguably astroturf because of their funding 
and collaboration with commercial interests, but even if you buy the 
blogger's claim that AEI is taking orders from Comcast (which it isn't), 
it doesn't pretend to be speaking for the grassroots. After 76 years in 
operation, people engaged in public policy have a very clear idea of the 
values that AEI stands for, and the organization goes to great lengths 
to firewall fundraising from scholarship. AEI's management grades itself 
in part on being fired by donors, in part; this is actually a goal.

The thing I most like about  AEI is that it doesn't take official 
positions and leaves scholars the freedom to make up their own minds and 
to disagree with each other. Although we do tend to be skeptical of 
Internet regulation, we're certainly not of one mind about what needs to 
be regulated and who should do it. AEI is a real think thank, not an 
advocacy organization pretending to be a think tank.

The article is riddled with factual errors that I've asked Esquire to 
correct, but it has declined, just as it declined to make proper 
corrections to the blogger's previous story alleging the FCC had 
censored 500,000 signatures from a petition in support of Title II. See: 
http://www.esquire.com/blogs/news/comcast-astroturfing-net-neutrality?fb_comment_id=fbc_734581913271304_735710019825160_735710019825160#f35206a395cd434

The blogger came to my attention when he was criticized on Twitter by 
journalists who support net neutrality for that shoddy piece of 
sensationalism; see the dialog around this tweet: 
https://twitter.com/oneunderscore__/status/489212137773215744

The net neutrality debate astonishes me because it rehashes arguments I 
first heard when writing the IEEE 802.3 1BASE5 standard (the one that 
replaced coaxial cable Ethernet with today's scalable hub and spoke 
system) in 1984. Even then some people argued that a passive bus was 
more "democratic" than an active hub/switch despite its evident 
drawbacks in terms of cable cost, reliability, manageability, 
scalability, and media independence. Others argued that all networking 
problems can be resolved by throwing bandwidth at them and that all QoS 
is evil, etc. These talking points really haven't changed.

The demonization of Comcast is especially peculiar because it's the only 
ISP in the US still bound by the FCC's 2010 Open Internet order. It 
agreed to abide by those regulations even if they were struck down by 
the courts, which they were in January. What happens with the current 
Open Internet proceeding doesn't have any bearing on Comcast until its 
merger obligations expire, and its proposed merger with TWC would extend 
them to a wider footprint and reset the clock on their expiration.

Anyhow, the blogger did spell my name right, to there's that.

RB

On 7/22/14, 9:07 AM, Paul WALL wrote:
> Provided without comment:
>
> http://www.esquire.com/blogs/news/comcast-astroturfing-net-neutrality
>
> Drive Slow,
> Paul Wall

-- 
Richard Bennett
Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy
Editor, High Tech Forum




More information about the NANOG mailing list