The AT&T funded front group trying to kill California’s net neutrality bill lists Uber as a member. But they’re not.
Big telecom companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T have a long and sordid history of funding “astroturf” organizations. These front groups, who often hide their funding sources, are tasked with creating the appearance of public support for policies that, frankly no one supports, because they allow cable and phone companies to screw us over more than they already do.
One particularly egregious example of this is CALinnovates, an organization that purports to advocate for startups and tech innovation, but takes big money from AT&T to spread propaganda against net neutrality and Internet privacy protections. Recently, they’ve been flooding California legislators with phony tweets generated by misleading ads that disguise themselves as coming from concerned constituents.
This group has been exposed as an AT&T-funded astroturf front in the past. But now it’s becoming clear just how fake they really are. CALinnovates lists a number of “members” on their website. The only one you’d recognize by name is Uber. But here’s the thing: a representative for Uber confirmed to Gizmodo journalist Dell Cameron that they are NOT a member of CALinnovates.
Looking into the list a bit more, the group lists Emeryville Chamber of Commerce as a member. But … as far as we can tell there is no Emeryville Chamber of Commerce — it’s been closed down.
So CALinnovates isn’t just lying about net neutrality, they’re lying about who they are and who supports them. And sadly this is all too typical — telecom giants seem willing to do almost anything to get their way, even if it means funding outright lies to drown out the voices of the public and undermine the democratic process.
The net neutrality bill that this front group is hellbent on stopping, SB 822, is heading for a final vote on the Assembly floor THIS WEEK. If you live in California, contact your Assemblymember right now and tell them not to be fooled by astroturf groups.