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Oops! Lobby group forgets to fill in blanks of apparent form letter to FCC

As reported last week, lobbying ahead of the FCC's vote on a net neutrality proposal was fierce. We looked into AT&T's push against the move for new rules.

But along with the intensity was some clumsiness. Take a look at this Broadband DSL story that shows a letter from a senior citizens organization opposed to open-Internet access rules forgot to fill in some of the blanks of what appeared to be a form letter on the issue.

If the lobbying ahead of last week's vote on commencing a rule-making process was fierce, it will only gather momentum as the agency begins to make the sausage on this issue. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed for stronger and broader rules that would prohibit Internet access providers from blocking or prioritizing certain content on the Web. The public has four months to weigh in at the agency's Web site.

By Cecilia Kang  |  October 26, 2009; 9:30 AM ET
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Again, a biased and one-sided story from Cecilia Kang, whose biased reporting should be an embarrassment to the Post. This story fails to mention the tens of thousands of identical form letters submitted by "Free Press," a Google-supported lobbying group, to the FCC in the docket regarding "network neutrality." (This "spam" so clogged the database that it made it difficult for the public, or even FCC staffers themselves, to find the submissions that were not form letters.)

Posted by: squirma | October 26, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Brett Glass (aka squirma):

Please provide proof that Free Press is a "Google-supported" lobbying group. You say this all over the place, but it is simply 100 percent false. New America Foundation and Public Knowledge do take Google money, as is shown in the public record, but Free Press does not. Anyone willing to take the time to look at the public record can see this. Brett of course knows this, but continues to lie about it. Dumb really, because it weakens Brett's points, some of which are interesting, but this singular focus on Free Press makes Brett seem like a conspiracy theorist.

Also, not that you get it, but there is a difference between a lobbying firm paid by AT&T getting fake grassroots organizations to sign onto a letter, and Free Press, or AARP, or any other organization sending an email to individual members, asking them in turn to send in their own form letter to the FCC.

Also, since you don't know, the FCC does have an option to "remove brief text comments" when searching the record, that filters out any comments shorter than one page, submitted via the webpage. No one at the FCC finds this to be a problem, or would ever refer to comments by the public as "spam."

-- Ama Bala

Posted by: amabala | October 26, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if the person who posted above under the name "Ama Bala" works for either Google or Free Press.

While the DC lobbying group "Free Press" claims not to take contributions from Google, it expunges the names of the donors on its IRS Form 990 so that the public cannot confirm this. (So much for "media transparency," which the group claims to advocate.) However, since Google is in the habit of having its executives give money to lobbying organizations as "personal" contributions (as is the case with the New America Foundation), it's likely that if the full text of the form were revealed, we'd see contributions from Google CEO Eric Schmidt or other Google executives. Why? Because Free Press, of all the organizations that lobby for regulation of the Internet, hews most closely to every single point of Google's corporate agenda. It also operates a "shadow" lobbying organization (called the "Free Press Action Fund"), with an interlocking corporate directorate, as a way of attempting to circumvent restrictions on lobbying in the Internal Revenue Code.

As for the "spamming" of dockets at the FCC: I actually didn't coin the term. An FCC staffer to whom I spoke recently did. So, yes, the FCC does refer to Free Press' "junk comments" as "spam." And not without justification.

Posted by: squirma | October 26, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

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