Is AT&T Behind Grassroots Groups That Are Opposed To Net Neutrality?

In the net neutrality debate, there are a surprising number of grassroots organizations (well, surprising to me at any rate) that have filed statements against the FCC’s recent draft of rules. Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica just published an interesting article where he looks at some of these groups and tries to figure out whether AT&T is secretly influencing them, or whether they really do think net neutrality will hurt those they represent–frequently minority groups–in the long run.

Lasar writes:

But when we spoke with [Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP)’s] Sylvia Aguilera, it was obvious that there was more than money doing the talking here. We asked her straight out if AT&T or one of the other big ISPs put her group up to writing the letter. No, she replied, it was she who had initiated the action. HTTP’s worries about net neutrality stem from concerns that the policy could slow down investment in ISP rollout, she explained, an area where many Latinos are finding jobs. We also asked AT&T whether they had a hand in the statement, but received no reply.

Ironically, while pro-neutrality activists see astroturf in all this, Aguilera sees something similar in the net neutrality movement. An HTTP analysis calls it “dominated by mainstream consumer advocates and the technology and telecommunications policy elite, groups that are least familiar and least equipped to discuss the perspectives of communities on the wrong side of the digital divide.” We asked Aguilera which groups she was talking about. She wouldn’t say.

Here’s a description of what the FCC’s new draft proposes for rules, as well as instructions on how to participate in the feedback period.

“AT&T and astroturf: is ‘following the money’ enough?” [Ars Technica]
(Photo: ccarlstead)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.