Net Neutrality, the web-era equivalent of the McCarthyite Red Scare, is a political creation that feeds on paranoia, technical ignorance and gullibility. How fortunate we are that these are so abundant on the internet. This week the scare claimed several more victims, including the popular blog Boing Boing.
Yesterday the Soros-funded political activist group Think Progress claimed a scoop - a document that revealed an apparently "secret" disinformation campaign funded by telecomms companies called No Net Brutality.
This made the Canadian professional activist Cory Doctorow very angry. So angry, in fact, he called for the compulsory nationalisation of the US telecomms industry, with only token compensation.
"I say, it's our dirt, so we make the rules. If they don't like those rules, let them get their goddamned wires out of our dirt, off our streets, out of our basements. Let's give them 60 days, and if they haven't pulled up their wires by then, we'll buy them for the scrappage price of the copper," he fumed, in a piece titled Leaked: Telcos' secret plans to use fake "citizens groups" to kill Net Neutrality.
In fact, as Declan McCullagh reveals at CNET, it was put together as an MBA exercise for a free market think tank, and had been posted in plain view on the web weeks ago. The six students received $100 for their trouble.
As McCullagh notes, the gaggle of Soros-backed groups aren't exactly neutral themselves, or even very transparent. Google and Yahoo help sponsor the anti-copyright jihadists Public Knowledge, while FreePress obliterates two pages of listings of contributors it publishes.
Prone as they are to conspiracy theories and paranoia, some neutrality activists added that the MBA presentation must be part of a deeper misinformation campaign by telcomms designed to, er, destabilise activists. Maybe it is - who knows? - but with professional activists of the calibre of Doctorow, they're quite capable of destabilising themselves without any external assistance.
It's all quite bonkers.
If you want to see what telcomms propaganda looks like, try the real thing, here. And for an insight into the weird psychology of the "neutrality" activist, check out a piece called The New Paranoid style in American politics from 2006, and tell us how well (or badly) it has held up. ®