Wednesday, September 27, 2006

AT&T Astroturf Blog Masquerades in Lehigh Valley Cyberspace

Media Action Lehigh Valley, has scheduled its inaugural meeting this Thursday at 7:30 P.M. in the Silkwerks Building (930 N. 4th St.) in downtown Allentown. On Monday, I told you about this new group and its fight to maintain net neutrality, a free and open Internet. It is the rule that has governed access to the net since its inception.

Telecom giants like AT&T, in their neverending quest for the Almighty Dollar, don't like net neutrality. They want to be able to control which sites go fast and which don't. Bloggers like me, unable to pay future tolls, will be a thing of the past. Search engines like Google, which has been likened to the Library of Alexandria, will slow to a crawl in favor of competing search engines. YouTube will go down the tunes.

Monday's post provoked a lengthy response from HandsOff43, which essentially ranted about Google and claimed to be interested in "educating" poor shleps like us about the disadvantages of net neutrality.

Gee, thanks.

I never heard from HandsOff43 before and decided to check out this blogger. Guess what? It's a frickin' front for AT&T! That's right, bippy. HandsOff43, aka Hands Off the Internet, is an astroturf group. It masquerades as a grassroots group but is actually a front for the Telecom industry. Primary funding source? AT&T. I guess buying Congress isn't enough. Paid shills must pollute the blogosphere as well. HandsOff43 has done so at with 512 posts at different sites.

Jeff Pooley, Professor of media and communication at Muhlenberg College and publisher of Old Fairgrounds and Lehigh Valley Media, correctly calls this disinformation from the propaganda artists at Hands Off a "sleazy attempt to ape the legitimacy of real citizen action." It also damages meaningful debate. Any comment opposing net neutrality will now be viewed with suspicion regardless of its actual merits. That's ultimately bad for all of us.

Hands Off retorted, in a Freudian slip, that it "has nothing to hide except the facts."

With that, I agree.

I wonder if I can pay my phone bill at their site.

This sordid little attempt to manipulate Lehigh Valley debate is showcased in Lehigh Valley Media, our new local media monitor. I'm sorry I put them to work so soon.

HandsOff, you're free to comment on my blog anytime you want, but I charge a toll to telecom giants. From now on, every time you visit my blog, I expect to see my phone bill reduced fifty cents. This should be no problem since that is what you want to do to sites throughout the net. If you can't honor my request, keep your hands off!


Anonymous said...

From what I understand, lacking the votes, the Ted Stevens (R, AK) "let's kill net neutrality" bill will not make it through the current congress. And if the Dem's take control of either the House or Senate, the telco's know they'll never get their bill to even come up for a vote. That leaves them one option...go after the things they want, incrementally perhaps, at the state level. "HandsOff" just may be the beginning of a number of fronts they'll be using to get their "hands on" the internet.

Bernie O'Hare said...

dg, And Pa is one state where they are trying to do get hold of the internet pipes.

LSTresidentPIA said...

So are you going to the meeting Bernie?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lst, I'd really like to go, if only to meet Jeff Pooley. It all depends on how much work I get done at the job that actually pays my bills.

Dem Fly on the wall said...

"Hands off" is what they call a "sock puppet". There are some interesting connotations in juxtapositioning those two terms, but I will leave it to your imaginations. I'm just glad you "exposed" them, O'Hare.

Bernie O'Hare said...

DemFly, I'd have no problem w/ AT&T or Verizon coming on and explaining their position so long as they identified themselves. But when they do it this way, they really hurt meaningful debate.

Thanks for dropping by.

PA progressive said...

Good catch there Bernie. I'll keep an eye out for HandsOff43.

I was up in your neck of the woods today and had lunch with Peter Wernsdorfer.

Anonymous said...

You pointed out that (Sanctimonious Ricky) Santorum has taken $168,000 from the Telecoms.

When the choice is god and money, politicians will take that beautiful cash every time.

Oh oh, is anyone gonna call Wally G?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much less a state politician costs than one we send to Washington. Supposedly our Harrisburg Senators are considering SB 1247 at the behest of our telcom friends (who only look out for our interests). I'm not sure if that's the correct bill number, but it's something we should all be concerned about.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Pa Progressive, I posted it specifically bc I don't like these attempts to interfere with free and open debate.

Lunch w/ Mr. Wernsdorfer? I've heard so many good things about Mr. W but have never had the pleasure. I did meet his wife a few months ago. Next time you come this far east, look me up.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Wally G? I'm trying to give that guy a little space to do the right thing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

dg, Something was supposed to go down today. I think it was just a committee hearing. And, by the way, you're absolutely right. I've read several posts by different bloggers about this. Telecom will try on a state lecvel what it can't do w/ the feds.

LVDem said...

That Peter is a shady guy according to Billy. Remember how he threatened poor Billy.

I don't either and I was there, but that's the same guy that Billy claimed was terrible to him at the DFA meeting. Knowing Peter, he's a great guy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, I've learned never to take Billy literally. But now that you mention this incident, a few things are clicking in the cobwebs between my ears. When I did meet Mrs. W, who was very nice and very smart, she semed a bit aloof to me. Finally, she blurted out that I had attacked her husband on my blog.

I couldn't recall a single word I had ever written about Peter either way. I don't believe I've ever met him, and have only heard good things about him.

But it now makes sense. I think Mrs. W must have confused me w/ Billy. We're both cranky and pretty much full of shit, so I guess I could see how that happens. But Billy is in Bill White's Hall of Fame.

Anonymous said...

Hands off or Wally G! Arn't they all a bunch of sneaky snakes who are looking for their next lunch at the working stiff's expense. How much more can they squeeze until we all get fed up enough to dig in our heels and take back the high ground?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Well said!

PA progressive said...

Pete's a good guy. He was the DFA organizer up there when I was in Berks. I get up to Allentown now and then, it really isn't far from my area of NE Berks. I'll drop you a note next time.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Great, I'll look forward to meeting you.