5 Bullshit Lies Cable Companies Are Feeding You Right Now
As you may have heard, the nation's cable companies have suddenly found themselves cast as villains, simply because of that little "trying to kill the Internet" thing. They're working hard to get rid of net neutrality, the basic principle that they can't charge extra to sites or services to make them load at a non-infuriating speed. But don't worry: In order to clear their good names, Verizon, Comcast, and their ilk are doing their best to address their customers' concerns ... by using the time-honored tradition of feeding us bullshit.
Yes, as they attempt to explain to us why having less freedom to look up porn and play online poker would be a good thing (or, you know, whatever other people use the Internet for), they're resorting to patently ridiculous arguments, like ...
"Disabled People Need Us to Kill Net Neutrality!"
Did you know that if you support net neutrality, you hate deaf people? That's the infallible logic being used by Verizon as they lobby on Capitol Hill for the creation of "fast lanes" on the Internet. According to them, the blind, the deaf, and other people with disabilities need faster Internet because of their particular needs, and what's the easiest way to make sure they get it? Yes, giving greedy companies the ability to decide which sites can go fast and which ones will slow to a crawl, obviously. Without those pesky regulations, more efficient sites for people with disabilities will be set up -- and then there's no way anything could go wrong, ever.
This argument about protecting the rights of the disabled surprised a lot of people ... including the disabled. Mark Perriello, the president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (and someone who is partially blind), told Mother Jones that he'd never heard about the idea that he was somehow getting fucked over by the free Internet. He also said it was rather "convenient" that the best way to help disabled people is to let cable companies earn enough money to become Game of Thrones-powered supervillains.
"If it wasn't for net neutrality, he'd have robot legs by now."
So let this be a lesson to overpaid lobbyists everywhere: The next time you want to pretend you're looking out for the interests of some minority group, at least have the decency to try to bribe their spokespeople first.
"Net Neutrality Violates Our Right to Free Speech!"
Having thoroughly enjoyed their first ride on the crazy train, Verizon decided to skip the long line and hop right back on like a bunch of assholes. They're claiming that net neutrality violates the First and Fifth Amendments, which protect their right to free speech, as well as their right to not feed and shelter soldiers during peacetime [author's note: double-check this later].
"Nope, can't hear you. Because of the government and stuff."
According to Verizon, which apparently sees itself as the brave, idealistic lawyer fighting the oppressive system in a Matthew McConaughey movie, if the government forces them to treat all traffic equally, it's somehow equivalent to a seizure of private assets for public use, which would violate their Fifth Amendment rights. But that's not all: They also claim that net neutrality is trampling their freedom of speech. This may sound like stupid bullshit to you at first, but what they're saying is that they have the "freedom" to decide how the "speech," or Web traffic, going through their systems should be transmitted. Wait, no, that still sounds like stupid bullshit.
You might be wondering now: If companies can decide that your shitty blog should load at 1/100 the speed of Perez Hilton's, or whoever's paying them for "fast lane" access, what does that mean for your freedom of speech? Well, that's totally different, you see, because ... whoops, the signal is fading ... hello? Hello?
"Nope, still nothing."
"Wait, No! We Totally Want to Protect Net Neutrality!"
Not one to be left out, cable juggernaut Comcast is trying to upgrade its supervillain status to "cable Magneto" by acquiring one of its competitors, Time Warner. Mergers between two huge corporations are rarely good news for anyone except those corporations, and with public opinion of Comcast less than favorable as it is, they had to try to bring the public back over to their side. How? By taking out a full-page newspaper ad that claimed, among other things, that they were super in favor of net neutrality, you guys.
"Please hold for three hours while a representative processes your selection."
Translated, this means, "We promise to be terrible, but not as terrible as Verizon." Specifically, Comcast means to agree to abide by the now-dead FCC rules that were struck down in court (challenged by, who else, Verizon). This would be good, except that the cable companies had a hand in crafting those rules, too, loopholes and all, which makes this promise mean pretty much fuck all.
Even leaving all of that aside, something tells us their net neutrality love isn't entirely genuine. This February, Comcast basically forced Netflix to pay more money in order to make their website work properly, which some of you may recognize as exactly the thing net neutrality is supposed to prevent. And just in case this wasn't blatantly obvious enough, here's a chart showing all the people trying to spend money to make net neutrality go away. Guess who's #3?
In our hearts, they're all #2.
And just to add insult to injury, Comcast showed just how in touch they are with their customer base by taking out this full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, of all places. Seriously, guys? You couldn't manage a fucking tweet or something?
"Our Industry Is Booming! Numbers Don't Lie!"
With all this whining going on, you'd think that current net neutrality laws are super oppressive for cable companies, but no: The cable and Internet industries aren't subject to as much regulation as other services these days. And they rather like it that way. In a letter they wrote to Congress, the National Cable Telecommunications Association was happy to point out how "investment and deployment" have increased over the past couple of decades as regulation decreases, which they illustrated with this handy graph. Basically, they're saying, "Just let us do whatever we want and we'll make everyone rich!"
"Seriously, everyone (percent)!"
Wow, those sure are big numbers! And they're getting bigger! Pack it in, Congress; clearly these guys know what they're doing. More than you'd think, actually: The graph is measuring cumulative investment, as in "all the money we've ever spent since 1996." So yes, the total amount cable companies have ever spent is probably going to keep going up forever, until some mad economist discovers a way to unspend money and turn cable lines back into dollars, like in our Richie Rich/X-Men crossover fan fiction.
Meanwhile, the actual amount they're investing per year is actually going down:
Huh, when you look at it that way, it almost seems like the recession fucked over cable companies just like everyone else, and their letter is actually full of shit. But who really needs to include all those ugly details, when skirting the legal definition of lying benefits you so much more?
"People Don't Want Net Neutrality Anyway!"
You've probably seen the huge amount of people online who are supporting net neutrality while throwing a middle finger up at the cable companies ... but did you know there are also anti-net neutrality advocacy groups out there? It's true. One group, Broadband for America, told the FCC that they "categorically reject" any attempts to make broadband Internet a public utility, which would subject it to more regulations to make sure the companies play fair, and who wants that?
So who's in this group? Well, let's see: the CEO of AT&T, the CEO of Comcast, the president of Cox Communications, the president of the NTCA, and, last but not least, the CEO of Verizon, among others.
"We're basically Voltron using giant dicks, with moneybag scrotums instead of lions."
Some of you may have noticed that this group appears to be made up almost exclusively of cable company presidents, and also that it can suck a hundred Cox. Less obvious is the fact that on its tax filings, Broadband for America retains the DCI Group, a lobbying firm that, as Vice puts it, "specializes in creating fake citizen groups on behalf of corporate campaigns."
"Are we supposed to draw something on the signs? I'm new to this."
While this may be the most blatant attempt as astroturfing, it's far from the only one. The American Consumer Institute (if you want no one to question your motives, just put "America" in the title) wants the FCC to leave ISPs alone to do as they please, while also being funded by cable company lobbyists. Similarly, the Heartland Institute, which claims that cable companies should have a right to charge Internet businesses out the wazoo, is heavily funded by Comcast, Time Warner, and AT&T. When you have to shell out millions of dollars to pretend that you have friends, that should be your sign that you're the most desperate, miserable person in existence.
In fact, we feel so bad for them that we're leaving you with this link, where you can tell the FCC how much you like cable companies and what they're doing. Have fun!