Consumer advocates everywhere are demanding that the Federal Communication Commission continue down its current path for shelving net neutrality and allowing a two-tiered internet. That is, if cable company-created front groups and other industry-funded organizations are to be believed.
To the surprise of probably no one, ISPs are enraged at the prospect of being classified as a utility and are fighting back. But the attacks are not fully transparent. Many of the organizations protesting a move toward classifying ISPs as a utility, which is the only likely option for enacting net neutrality, are funded by the ISP lobby.
A disclosure obtained by VICE from the National Cable and Telecom Association (NCTA), a trade group for ISPs, shows that the bulk of Broadband for America’s recent .5 million budget is funded through a million donation from NCTA.
Broadband for America’s most recent tax filing shows that it retained the DCI Group, an infamous lobbying firm that specializes in creating fake citizen groups on behalf of corporate campaigns.
Another group leading the charge is the American Consumer Institute. The organization recently filed a letter with the FCC opposing reclassification, and argues that ISPs should be left alone. “The fact is that the broadband market is competitive and becoming more so,” wrote ACI, which claims that consumers currently enjoy “increased choice.” In January, ACI called the Verizon lawsuit that struck down the original FCC net-neutrality guidelines, “a victory for consumers.”
Why would a self-professed consumer advocacy group not only oppose moving toward net neutrality but claim that America’s broadband market—one of the slowest, most expensive in the industrialized world with fewer than three choices in many parts of the country—is so great?
Perhaps because ACI, like Broadband for America, is financed by an ISP lobby group. Annual tax returns show that a foundation controlled by lobbyists from the cell phone industry, called MyWireless.org, has contributed to ACI since 2010.
Leaked documents from the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank famous for shilling on behalf of corporate donors, show major funds from Comcast, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable.
The public is beginning to mobilize around the issue. Advocacy organizations focused on promoting a free and fair Internet, including Free Press, Color of Change, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Demand Progress, and others, are using the FCC comment period, in which the agency is soliciting outside feedback about the rule-making, as an opportunity to organize the public.
John Oliver recently rallied viewers of his show *Last Week Tonight* [to submit comments to the FCC in support of net neutrality](http://upriser.com/posts/fcc-comment-page-buckles-to-its-knees-after-john-oliver-asks-everyone-to-comment). The response has bombarded and overwhelmed the agency with more than 40,000 comments – by far the most they’ve ever received online.[More.](http://www.vice.com/read/cables-companies-are-astroturfing-fake-consumer-support-to-end-net-neutrality)