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Moment of Truth – the Fight for Hard Net Neutrality Regulation

Disruptive Views

July 20, 2016

by Tony Poulos

 

Over the last few years, John Strand and his firm, Strand Consult, have followed the net neutrality debate and published a number of research notes and 7 detailed reports on the topic. Hard net neutrality rules are in place in some 50 countries even though soft rules are proven to work better to support investment and innovation.

For the last 20 years Strand Consult has published serious, independent research about the telecommunications industry. They are not afraid to say unpopular and embarrassing things about its actors in the industry.

With this free report “The moment of truth – a portrait of the fight for hard net neutrality regulation by Save The Internet and other internet activists” Strand Consult shares its knowledge and offers a free 50 page report detailing how sophisticated global coalitions such as Save the Internet have succeeded to overwhelm seemingly “independent” telecom regulators and implement hard rules.

The report shows that Save The Internet and other internet activists with well-funded, globally coordinated, digitally sophisticated campaigns, have succeeded to deliver hard net neutrality regulations in some 50 countries. Internet activism is an industry; “digital prostitutes” who will lend their support to corporate inspired causes are available for hire; and net neutrality activism receives hundreds of millions of dollars of support from corporate and foundation funders intent on protecting their financial portfolios and business models.

US-based net neutrality activists franchise and broker their activism models and concepts to a variety of activist entrepreneurs around the world. Telecom regulators such as BEREC, FCC and TRAI are both supporters and victims of activist campaigns. They may tout the mails delivered as part of digital campaigns as support for rulemaking, but they also experience increasing lack of credibility, as the activism exposes their lack of political independence.

SavetheInternet.eu website: “In this campaign hundreds of thousands of Internet users banded together from 2013 till 2016 to keep the Internet free and open. Together, we sent a loud, clear message to the European Institutions: protect net neutrality. And it worked! The final rules, which were published on 30 August 2016, offer some of the strongest net neutrality protections we could wish for. So long as these new rules are properly enforced by national telecom regulators, they represent a resounding victory for net neutrality.”

SavetheInternet.eu purports to have delivered some 94,000 mails to BEREC as part of the net neutrality consultation, but based upon access to “20,000” mails Strand Consult received under freedom of information laws, Strand Consult believes the actual number to be only 4,000 – 5,000 mails. Each mail is delivered to the 28 telecom regulators of the EU. Moreover some 30 percent of the mail come from Americans in the USA, not Europeans.

In a battle that has waged for a decade, telecom operators have been outmatched by the net neutrality lobby in funding, coordination, leadership, and impact.  The funding of the Ford and Open Society Foundations to activists alone exceed what the entire telecom industry spends on advocacy on the issue. In the BEREC stakeholder consultation in December 2015, Google had financial support with 7 of the 14 official stakeholder organizations in all three categories (including 3 of the 4 civil society organizations).  Telecom industry representatives were only found in one category.

In a modern democracy, it is important to listen to people and have a debate.  A serious debate should be based on facts and provide transparency. The debate about a free and open internet is important, but self-interested Internet companies such as Google and Netflix have poisoned the debate. They have used their combination of money, public relations spin, and outsourcing of the dirty work to digital prostitutes around the World.

Avaaz website: “Update 12 November 2014|”We won! After a nerve-wracking battle, the delivery of our 1.1 million-strong petition, and hundreds of thousands of emails and calls to key MEPs, the EU Parliament voted for strong Net Neutrality rules. Now the EU governments have the final say — let’s keep up the pressure so they don’t backtrack – sign and tell everyone!”

The net neutrality debate is not about a free and open internet; it is game in which big companies fight their competitors. In the process, users and regulators are abused as tools. BEREC, FCC, TRAI and other regulators has become the naïve victims, having been co-opted by well-funded activists.  The process could be cleaned up with an appropriate return to the facts and academic evidence.

Strand Consult’s goal is to bring transparency to the net neutrality debate and to demonstrate how well-funded, sophisticated global campaigns have succeeded to make hard net neutrality rules in the US, EU, India, and other countries.

Download the free report here: The Moment of Truth

[Tony Poulos is a freelance writer, regular speaker, MC and chairman for the telecoms and digital services industries worldwide. He has founded and managed software and services companies, acts a market strategist and is now Editor of DisruptiveViews. In June 2011, Tony was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in telecom software worldwide.]