Fighting the Zombies: Ten Ways to Debunk Telco Shills

What does the debate over Net Neutrality have in common with a zombie horror flick? As the phone and cable companies send out a brainless horde of shills and lobbyists, it's not hard to make the connection.

That's why Free Press and just released a brief exposing the ten most common myths that phone and cable companies are spreading against Net Neutrality.

Digital Déjà Vu: Old Myths about Net Neutrality sheds light on the misdirection, fear-mongering and falsehoods at the core of their "talking points" and calls for the debate over an open Internet to be bound by facts, not fiction.

What's most revealing about their new PR assault against Net Neutrality is how stale their arguments are... and how easy it is for anyone equipped with the facts to call them out.

"It's like we've been magically transported back to 2005 when the fight for Net Neutrality began," says S. Derek Turner, Free Press research director and author of Digital Déjà Vu. "To sow confusion, they've trotted out the same old lines, even though they were widely discredited then. Internet users need to know the truth. This is too important a public policy issue to be held captive by industry misinformation."

The debate over Net Neutrality has been reignited with the introduction of Net Neutrality legislation in Congress and the announcement by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski of plans to create stronger open Internet rules.

Turner's brief combats industry fiction with hard facts.

One soggy refrain is that ""Net Neutrality is a solution in search of a problem." But Turner's report shows how ISPs have claimed that they need to violate the principles of the open Internet to reap profits from new discriminatory business models. The technology that enables this discrimination, filtering and blocking of Web content is finally available to ISPs. And the companies that provide it, including Sandvine, Zeugma Systems and Procera Networks, list most major U.S. providers among their main customers.

We have already seen "troubling behavior" in the marketplace, Chairman Genachowski told the New Yorker last week. This discriminatory technology "may be deployed in the network, in ways that frustrate users and dramatically depart from the Internet's open-architecture roots. Unscrambling the eggs later will be very difficult, if not impossible, if action is not taken to affirmatively choose to safeguard this critical platform for innovation and opportunity."

(The industry's "Problem? What problem?" approach was skewered even further on Tuesday by Nate Anderson of ArsTechnica)

Another myth rejected by Turner is that Net Neutrality rules "will be the first time the government has regulated the Internet."

"This is false," Turner said. "The open Internet as we know it would not exist if not for regulation. More than 40 years ago, the FCC helped to create an environment where the Internet could flourish by preventing phone companies from interfering with traffic flowing over their networks."

Openness was built into the DNA of Internet at its inception. It is the reason that it has become such a tremendous engine for free speech, economic innovation and opportunity. And it's why the number of people to have spoken out for Net Neutrality protections under law is approaching 2 million.

"Net Neutrality rules will preserve the free flow of information, spur investment and promote choice," Turner said. "We cannot allow the future of the open Internet to be sabotaged by these long-discredited myths."

Read Digital Déjà vu at and use this information to challenge the industry spin wherever and whenever it emerges.