THE BLOG
05/24/2006 12:54 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Desperate Telcos: When the Going Gets Tough, the Absurd Rumors Get Going

Opponents of Internet freedom seem shocked that Google, MoveOn, the Christian Coalition, and 700 other diverse organizations are fighting on the same side to preserve the Internet that has revolutionized democratic participation, economic innovation, and free speech.

Telecom companies and their multi-million dollar lobbyists are so befuddled that their plan to put tollbooths on the Internet is losing support that they've taken to spreading absurd rumors.

Internet freedom opponents told one right-wing tabloid that "Google has become the single largest private corporate underwriter of MoveOn." That's news to us since MoveOn has never received a cent from Google - or any other big business. We're funded by the small dollar contributions of 3.3 million members.

Equally absurd, "sources" told the tabloid that "Some of that money has gone to an online petition drive and a letter-writing campaign." That may be AT&T's fantasy world - but right now, online activities that allow regular citizens to be participants in their democracy cost advocacy groups almost nothing. And that's a good thing.

Rounding out a trifecta of errors, the tabloid says MoveOn is funneling Google "Net Neutrality money" into a Senate race in Pennsylvania. That rumor isn't just paranoid - it doesn't even point at the right organization. MoveOn.org Civic Action, which is pushing Net Neutrality, is a separate organization from MoveOn.org Political Action, which does more political work

Unfortunately, these aren't the most egregious rumors going around.

Internet freedom opponents also try to fool Congress and the public with rumors that Net Neutrality means "regulating the Internet." They know full well that Net Neutrality has been in place since the Internet began, but the FCC recently put it on the path to elimination unless Congress steps in and pro-actively keeps the rules the same.

Telecom companies also like to paper Congress with propaganda implying that Internet freedom is somehow a left-wing issue. Tell that to the Christian Coalition, Gun Owners of America, Instapundit, the business executives, and the many libertarians who are fighting right along with MoveOn, the inventors of the Internet, thousands of bloggers, and the SavetheInternet.com Coalition in support of Net Neutrality.

As Craig Fields of the Gun Owners says, when the left and right agree on an issue like Internet freedom, "it's been my experience that what Congress is getting ready to do is basically un-American." On the proposal to destroy Net Neutrality, most Americans would probably agree.

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Image by Mari Fetzer, MoveOn member