Koch-backed group stokes ‘Marxist’ fears in campaign to hand Internet over to corporations
A shadowy conservative group tied to the Koch brothers is telling conservatives that “net neutrality” is a “Marxist” plot to slow down their Internet, stifle free speech, and destroy capitalism.
The telecommunications industry-pushed plan to charge more for some types of Internet usage is frequently misunderstood, when Americans are aware of it all, and ccorporate-backed misinformation campaigns have rushed to fill the knowledge gap.
“Stop Obama’s Internet takeover,” the emails warn readers who signed up to register for the conservative Washington Times, according to a Motherboard report.
“In recent weeks, bureaucrats in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) drafted crushing new regulations that are the first steps in a full federal takeover of the greatest bastion of American free enterprise: the Internet,” read the emails, which are signed by Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment.
Kerpen, a former employee at the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity, oversees the conservative advocacy group that promotes causes and candidates championed by the billionaire industrialist brothers – including the coal industry, the repeal of Obamacare, and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The group also defends ALEC, a legislative group that has helped remove telecom competition in many states.
Kerpen won’t say whether the Koch brothers donate to American Commitment, but an Open Secrets investigation found that more than $11 million of the group’s funding cannot be traced.
Other groups funded by the Kochs have published opinion pieces in newspapers promoting the telecom position in net neutrality, although the language in this latest astroturf campaign is a bit more provocative than usual.
A screen capture of the email posted online by Motherboard shows Kerpen’s suggestion that reclassifying the Internet as a public utility is a Marxist plot to destroy capitalism and end free speech.
“The government will make it nearly impossible for Internet providers to upgrade their infrastructure – upgrades that would bring down costs and speed up services that will simply not happen,” Kerpen warns. “Massive new regulations and government orders will virtually eliminate competition – just like the bad old days of the heavily regulated ‘Ma Bell’ telephone system.”
Kerpen urges email recipients to sign an American Commitment petition “to stop the FCC dead in their tracks – and help the fight to keep the Internet open and free.”
The petition asks FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to admit that reclassifying the Internet as a Title II utility is a “lawless Obama administration power grab.”
Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist, has said he “won’t hesitate” to reclassify the Internet as a Title II utility – like traditional telephone service – if the FCC is unable to enact rules that would allow telecom companies to charge more for faster service.
The email claims more than 160,000 people have signed the petition, but official numbers aren’t publicly available.
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