Canard for Mr. Genachowski, canard for Mr. Genachowski!

When you follow a subject, there is a tendency to roll the eyes when you have heard the same arguments made for a number of years. It’s important to remember that while you may think that a message walks like a canard, etc., just because it’s not new to you doesn’t mean it’s not new to someone else. It’s very easy to think that someone’s message is so obviously talking like a canard, how could anyone not see it and reject the message?

Easily. Just because it’s not new to you doesn’t mean it’s not new to someone. Also, if people keep banging the same message, it’s probably because they think it works for them.

So it is with the EFF’s “Don’t Let Hollywood Hijack the Internet” petition campaign. Here’s what they told the FCC Chair Julius Genachowski that the petition said:

“To the Federal Communications Commission: Your October 22, 2009 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks to create an exception from network neutrality and open Internet principles to allow ISPs to block or filter content which they suspect might be copyright-infringing. I believe this exception would be damaging to lawful fair use, free speech and innovation on the Internet, and that it should be removed.

Sincerely [A bunch of names] ”

We have a real skepticism about online petitions around here, particularly given the experience in Canada. But leave that to one side.

What is clearly not included in the EFF’s letter to Mr. Genachowski is toute les salade surrounding the online petition–so if the Chair just read the EFF filing he would not get the complete picture, he would miss the color commentary.

The petition website (http://www.realnetneutrality.org/) reads: “For years, the entertainment industry has used that innocent-sounding phrase — “unlawful distribution of copyrighted works” — to pressure Internet service providers around the world to act as copyright cops — to surveil the Internet for supposed copyright violations, and then censor or punish the accused users.

From the beginning, a central goal of the Net Neutrality movement has been to prevent corporations from interfering with the Internet in this way — so why does the FCC’s version of Net Neutrality specifically allow them to do so?”

There you go again—“copyright cops” etc., etc., ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

But then this bit caught my eye:

“[Petition signers: ] Tell the FCC that if it wants to police the Internet, it first needs to demonstrate that it can protect Internet users and innovators by standing up to powerful industry lobbyists. Sign your name here to demand that the copyright-enforcement loophole be removed.”

“Powerful industry lobbyists”. Now who might that be?

How about this from the EFF’s FCC reply comment filing delivering these “signatures”:

“In addition to this direct input from members of the public, a number of public interest and industry groups, including the Computer and Communications Industry Association (Google, et al), the Consumer Electronics Association (Google, et al), Home Recording Rights Coalition (undisclosed members), NetCoalition (Google, et al), and Public Knowledge, agree that the Commission’s definition of ‘reasonable network management’ should avoid creating any exception that would allow ISPs to inflict collateral damage on lawful content and activities in the course of interdicting unlawful content or transmissions.” (“Collateral damage”? Really?)

The Computer and Communications Industry Association, or the CCIA. They showed up in a Geist puff piece recently, too. Interesting timing.

And then there’s the old standbys, the Consumer Electronics Association and Home Recording Rights Coalition. What’s strange about the EFF’s reply comments is that while the letter dutifully ticks off the largest “Big Tech” lobbyists (safely camouflaged in a list that includes “public interest groups”, but very present), it seems to imply that somehow the purported signers of the EFF petition support the views of these “powerful industry lobbyists.”

However, the petition website said nothing about the CCIA, the Consumer Electronics Association or the Home Recording Rights Association, or any of the others for that matter. All those lobbyists represent Corporate America, baby. Do you think that the petition signers who were lured in by the “Real Net Neutrality” slogan “Tell the FCC: Don’t Let Hollywood Hijack the Internet!” would have been more or less likely to be signed up if they knew their petition was being used to further the corporate goals of CCIA member Google (the monopoly privacy invader) and the legion of other “Big Tech” companies whose combined market caps vastly exceed the entire entertainment industry? They don’t have to hijack the Internet, they “own” it already. And why just “Hollywood”? How about London, or Bollywood, or Toronto, or Austin, or New Orleans, or Seattle, or Paris….

Do you think that these petition signers would have been more or less likely to sign up if they knew that the position the EFF attribute to “Hollywood” is also the position of the AFLCIO? Any AFLCIO members among the signers? How about members of AFTRA, SAG and the Songwriters Guild of America? Since nobody bothered to disclose on the Real Net Neutrality website that the plan was to use these signers to create an implied endorsement of Big Tech, does anyone plan on telling them now?

Well, it should come as no surprise that they didn’t bother to ask. Adding the Big Tech names to the petition is just a remix after all, right? It’s not like they violated anyone’s rights or anything.

If it walks like a canard, talks like a canard, smells like a canard and quacks like a canard—it’s a canard. No matter how many times you’ve seen it before.

See also: 100,000 Voters Who Don’t Exist

See also The Geist in the Hen House