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(via Cable companies bankroll fake consumer groups to end net neutrality | Ars Technica)

'Cable companies that stand to benefit the most from an end to net neutrality have been bankrolling so-called “consumer advocacy” groups that aim to kill it.

Such non-profits like Broadband for America and the American Consumer Institute (ACI), both of which claim to be “independent consumer advocacy groups” and have been fighting against classifying ISPs as a utility (a move that would make it easier to enact net neutrality rules in the future), have been shown to be heavily funded by the cable industry.

According to a disclosure obtained by Vice from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), an ISP-supported trade group, most of Broadband for America’s recent $3.5 million budget comes from a $2 million donation from NCTA. Vice further uncovered that, based on its tax return filings, Broadband for America has retained the DCI Group, an “infamous lobbying firm,” that Vice argues specializes in building fake consumer interest groups that actually serve corporate interests.

What’s more, Vice found that the American Consumer Institute, which similarly opposes reclassification of ISPs, has been bankrolled by an ISP lobby group called Mywireless.com that has been a consistent financial contributor to ACI since 2010.

"This kind of funding has been very common since the beginning of the net neutrality debate," Tim Karr, director of strategy at the advocacy organization Free Press, told Ars on Friday afternoon.

"ACI has a fairly storied reputation for being a press release factory to drum up industry support,” Karr continued. “They are very much in the business of trying to act as a counterweight to the legitimate advocacy groups that have been well organized against cable industry."

What’s more, according to Todd O’Boyle, media and democracy program director at Common Cause, such industry-funded groups can be quite effective if not called out for their conflicts of interest. “The problem that we see is that the media will quote these people without identifying those conflicts,” O’Boyle told us on Friday afternoon. “They have been very good at infiltrating grassroots causes without properly disclosing sources of funding…”’

What’s true of us is true of nature. If we are conscious, as our species seems to have become, then nature is conscious. Nature became conscious in us, perhaps in order to observe itself. It may be holding us out and turning us around like a crab does its eyeball. Whatever the reason, that thing out there, with the black holes and the nebulae and whatnot, is conscious. One cannot look in the mirror and rationally deny this. It experiences love and desire, or thinks it does… . Others talk about God, and I feel we can sit together, that God is one of this thing’s masks, or that this thing is God.
John Jeremiah Sullivan (our generation’s best essayist?)

(Source: newyorker.com)

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