FCC may do-over Comcast Net Neutrality hearing due to presence of paid Comcastards


Yesterday on Boing Boing, we shared first-hand reports from the guys at Miro that Comcast hired goons to fill seats and cheer at an FCC hearing over net neutrality at Harvard. Today, Jordan at Valleywag points us to this update:

The FCC is considering holding a fresh hearing on net neutrality, with Comcast and Verizon again in attendance -- and this time it may be at Stanford. The do-over after a mini-scandal erupted over the first hearing, held at Harvard; Comcast flacks confessed they'd paid people off the street to act as seatwarmers. Let this be a lesson to you all: If you're going to meddle in politics, do it skillfully enough not to get caught.

The Harvard hearing, a rare outside-the-Beltway event, ended disastrously for all involved. The hearing had many more attendees than were expected, with the room running out of space well before the hearing began. As a result, dozens of members of the public and opposition groups were refused entry. Comcast's ruse was detected when some of its fresh hires fell asleep.

Read the rest here. Image: Comcast's yellow-highlighter-wearing goons snoozing off during the hearing (photo: Free Press. The term "comcastards" is TM, 2008, Brian Lam).

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  1. Judging by the pictures and how the people were dressed, I would venture a guess that the attendees were installers and linemen from Comcast. But since they are rarely seen in the wild, the only real indication that they were Comcast employees was the fact they were sleeping!

  2. ah I love this shit! It give us hope that the bad guys are still intrinsically stupid and we may beat them yet!

  3. Is it really necessary to call dudes who are likely just day laborers trying to make a buck goons and whores? Obviously any douchusations should be lobbed at comcast, not the guys they picked up to do their dirty work,

  4. It’s a common thing on capitol hill for people of the political class to pay poor people – often bike couriers – to get in line for them for hearings or other first-come-first-served political events.

    it’s called “line standing” among those who do it – basically you get paid an hourly fee to get in line for someone, and then when they show up you give them your place.

    Only a lot of times, the political person never shows up, they just paid to have a spot saved for them in case. Normally, this just means that the courier goes home before the event starts and someone else gets in instead, but I can see how it’d be possible for them to use the same kind of arrangement and ask them to sit through the whole hearing. Pretty clever.

  5. Is it really necessary to call dudes who are likely just day laborers trying to make a buck goons and whores?

    Aren’t whores just day laborers trying to make a buck?

  6. “If you’re going to meddle in politics, do it skillfully enough not to get caught.”

    With no penalty, there’s no disincentive for misbehaving. There actually an incentive, as there’s nothing to lose. If all the FCC does is a “do over” – performing rework on the public dime – they are not doing their jobs.

  7. Let me spell this out for everybody.

    Notice how cable TV works? Some of the channels are “free.” Some of them cost a lot of money. They’re all owned by a small handful of companies. Rarely do you see new channels, and channels often engage in censorship, like Discovery Channel’s decision to not air “A Taxi to the Darkside.”

    This is exactly what they want to do to the web. They want to create different pricing for different levels of connectivity.

    Huge Media Company X can afford to pay for the higher connection rate for their website servers, and people will be willing to pay a higher cost to connect to it at a high speed.

    Tiny Joe Blow Entrepreneur / Tiny Citizen Journalist can’t afford to pay for the higher connection rate for their website servers, and people won’t be willing to pay a higher cost to connect to it at a high speed.

    It will become economically infeasible for the small guy to afford the kind of bandwidth speeds needed to host a serious website. The small guy will have to turn to Huge Media Company in order to get their website hosted with the bandwidth they need.

    And guess what? Huge Media Company doesn’t want you competing with them or saying anything bad about any of their partners, investors, or advertisers.

    This *will* be the end of the Web as we know it.

    Say hello to Interactive Cable. Say hello to $250/month for Internet and TV.

  8. With no penalty, there’s no disincentive for misbehaving. There actually an incentive, as there’s nothing to lose. If all the FCC does is a “do over” – performing rework on the public dime – they are not doing their jobs.

    That’s what I came here to say. We all know they’re going to try to do the same thing again, but just figure out how to not get caught.

    There’s got to be some way to punish corporations for this type of behavior- Trying to unfairly influence proceedings is underhanded at best, no matter how common it may be. There should be something similar to contempt to slap on them.

  9. @WINGO

    You should check out The Corporation.

    Basically, Corporations are granted rights and privileges like a human being, but you can’t put them in jail like you can a human being.

    And they are required by law to turn a profit. They’re required to make the choices that pay off better for their share holders, not the choice that is the most moral.

    Basically, a corporation acts almost exactly like a sociopathic human being.

  10. This story has made it not only to HuffPo and the New York Times, but even to IMDb. Congratulations to Comcast for bringing net neutrality to the attention of everybody in the English speaking world.

  11. I heard this on the local radio in Boston.

    What is most annoying is that the story there and here don’t say how many seats were saved and how many seats there were in the auditorium. If Comcast saved 25 out of 100 seats, that would be bad.

    If they saved 8 of 200, it is a complete non-story.

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