Astroturf, Anyone?

12:40 PM -- I'm just catching up on the whole "astroturf" thing.

What's astroturf -- other than the fake grass you find in 1970s-era sports stadiums? It's the new spam. It's wonk-jargon for faux grass-roots organizations that are being created to blog and push a specific agenda on the Internet. Here's what's "faux" about it: The medium might appear folksy and championed "by the people," but in actuality it's backed by powerful corporate lobbyists.

Astroturf has become a big, big deal among telecom lobbyists.

One prime example: Hands off the Internet, a lobbying organization currently sporting a populist Website filled with bloggers explaining how Net Neutrality is fundamentally evil.

Hands Off the Internet advertises itself as "a nationwide coalition of Internet users." But flip to the "Members page," and you find that backers include Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), and Cingular Wireless . Well, they are "Internet users." The power of the little guy!

You may have also seen another big product of astroturf, that panicky cartoon on Net Neutrality that can be found at dontregulate.org.

More details on astroturfing were recently unveiled by Common Cause, an organization (maybe Astroturf itself?) that has issued a report on the trend.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

realityondemand 12/5/2012 | 3:42:36 AM
re: Astroturf, Anyone? What annoys me is that the Service Provider lobby keeps framing this as something its not. It's perfectly fine to allow your customers more bandwidth at higher cost. That is not at issue.

What is at issue is the silly notion that Google and Yahoo, et al, do not pay for their access to the internet.

On the contrary, they have either built their own infrastructure or are paying a pretty penny to their OWN service providers to gain access to the larger internet.

The Service Providers themselves wouldn't have the demand of their customers to even get broadband and pay higher costs for it if there were no content for their customers to digest. They should be worshipping at the Google altar, not trying to charge the gods for the Word just because they have to pay the cost of building a church (okay, weird analogy, but you get what I mean).

Instead, they have turned the issue into something it is not so that it seems like they are on your side.

Furthermore, it's even more insane for the SPs to claim that this kind of action will require "unprecidented government regulation". The existence of Telcos themselves as monopolies is enough "unprecidented government regulation" to begin with. In this case, the Government would actually be doing what it is supposed to do - protect property rights. It's not your data, AT&T, so take a back seat and just be happy we are paying you to be the delivery truck.
Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:42:33 AM
re: Astroturf, Anyone? Well said. SP's are greedy swine and we pay for it. I require a T1 because ATT cannot deliver DSL to my SOHO, notr are they prepared to roll out Lightspeed in my area. Pathetic and we pay. I say lets demonstrate. LR lets start a campaign against the SP's.
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