Huffington Post Explores Why Some Rights Groups Sided with ISPs in Net Neutrality Fight

The Huffington Post has an interesting article attempting to unravel why some rights groups have sided with broadband Internet and mobile service providers in the fight over net neutrality. They specifically point the finger at the NAACP, who has decided that it would be bad to put restrictions on ISPs because it will stymie their efforts to build out broadband networks in urban areas.

But, while the report may single out the NAACP in its headline, it does go on to mention that over 40 civil rights groups are supporting broadband providers that oppose stricter net neutrality rules.

Critics of these groups claim that the only reason many of these groups oppose net neutrality rules is because they receive substantial donations or funding from many of the country's top broadband and mobile providers.

The NAACP is joined by the National Urban League and 40 minority groups represented by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, who filed comments with the FCC earlier this month in support of ISPs.

The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council received somewhere in the neighborhood of $725,000 in donations and sponsorships between 2009 and 2011 from Verizon, Time Warner and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

In a recent interview, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council president David Honig, said the funding his organization receives from the telecoms industry was not essential to its operations and did not have an influence on its position on net neutrality. He also said the group receives support from companies on both sides of the debate and that it opposes ISPs on other issues.

Honig went on to say that he is "saddened" by critics who think that – because his group received funding from telecoms companies – that it has somehow been "bought."

Another group that sided with ISPs is the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). On its website, it lists Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon as the members of its "corporate alliance." In 2006, AT&T gave LULAC $1.5 million to build technology centers in low-income Hispanic communities; and in 2008, Verizon gave the group $1 million to improve literacy among Hispanic children.

Brent Wilkes, national executive director of LULAC, said that it should be allowed to take whatever position it likes despite who gives it money.

"We take our stance based on what we believe are the best interests of the Latino community, and we have not been pressured by these companies," Wilkes said.

To be fair, many groups take different positions on issues even as they take donations from companies that might agree with them on one policy statement and oppose them on another. For example, Alex Nogales of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, serves on Comcast's diversity advisory council, even though his group is calling for stricter net neutrality rules.

But Nogales knows that taking a position against an industry that once contributed to your cause can mean a sudden loss of financial support; after the National Hispanic Media Coalition called for stronger net neutrality rules in 2010, Verizon officials stopped talking to Nogales and donating money to his organization, he said.

"When we took a position on net neutrality, that was the end of the relationship," Nogales said. "If you're on [Verizon's] side of an issue, they're eager to support you. If you're not, they're not going to support you. It's as simple as that."

You can read the entire article here.

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  1. 0
    Neo_DrKefka says:

    To put it bluntly Comcast hires a lot of black female workers for there Call Centers. Around the Chicagoland area in the Tinley Park location (Which handles Billing/sales) and the Schaumburg (Sales) locations the majority of the Call Center agents are black women. You might see the commericals where the call centers are state of the art and run by white men in uniforms but it’s more like a bland call center of arts and crafts everywhere and women with tattoos and skimpy clothes. If a company goes out of its way to hire black workers for the majority of its call center positions then you’ll get plenty of support.

    Plus Comcast goes out of its way to add in low watched black TV stations which is another reason the NAACP does not want to allow as Americans to choose our own tv networks in our TV package because that would put BET out of business.

  2. 0
    Infophile says:

    Exactly. I recall one lobbyist who said that his most successful tactic for influencing politicians was to ask them what they planned to do when they left office, and then say, "Well, when that time comes, look me up." No money needs to exchange hand, but the thought of future money is firmly planted, and that will influence behavior a great deal.

  3. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Even if they are not 'bought', one tends to put more weight on the arguments of someone they have a connection to then those with whom they do not.  So the simple fact they interact so much and see the names of various ISPs associated with the work they do with produce a certain emotional bias towards believing the arguments the ISPs are making.

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