Friday, February 29, 2008

Comcast Pays Seat Warmers To Help Block The Net

Net Neutrality is a big deal, and so is the process for corporations like Comcast to make the net more suitable for their bottom line and not for equal access to the Internet. Right now the FCC is touring the country to get public comments from Americans to see what they think about companies being allowed to filter certain sites and speeds of communication at their whim. Comcast, being the greedy corporation that they are doesn't want to play fairly, so they hired seat warmers to stay silent and keep the interested public out of the hearing in Boston.

From Save The Internet:

Comcast — or someone who really, really likes Comcast — evidently bused in its own crowd. These seat-warmers, were paid to fill the room, a move that kept others from taking part.

[Update: Comcast admits to paying people to stack the room in their favor. Read the report.]

They arrived en masse some 90 minutes before the hearing began and occupied almost every available seat, upon which many promptly fell asleep (picture above).

MarkeyComcast’s sleeper cell

One told us that he was “just getting paid to hold someone’s seat.”

>> Listen to the audio

He added that he had no idea what the meeting was about.

If he was holding someone else’s seat, he never gave it up.

Many of this early crowd had mysteriously matching yellow highlighters stuck in their lapels.

MarkeyComcast payoff

We also photographed them outside the venue being handed papers by an organizer who had been seen earlier talking with several of the Comcast people at the hearing.

Here’s why this is a problem. Comcast clearly paid disinterested people to fill seats. This barred interested citizens from entering.

More than 100 people who arrived at the appointed time for the hearing were turned away by campus police because the room was already full.

ComcastBarred: The interested public

The Cambridge hearing is part of the FCC’s ongoing investigation into Comcast’s blocking of Internet traffic. But there’s much more at stake. We are at a critical juncture, where it will be decided whether we have a closed Internet controlled by a small handful of giant corporations, or an open Internet controlled by the people who use it.

Comcast wants the former — to dictate which Web sites and services go fast, slow or don’t load at all. And they’re backed by the other would-be gatekeepers at AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner.

Comcast doesn't give a rats you know what about you, whether you're a customer of theirs or not. This is about control, plain and simple. Corporations like Comcast want to own us, its their inherent nature. They'll do anything for absolute power in order to make a larger profit and if controlling information is part of the game plan, then so be it. This is why we need to show up, en masse and apparently early to tell the FCC (and then Congress) that Net Neutrality must stand.