A FOIA request by the advocacy group Judicial Watch show that there may have been more behind net neutrality than we were first led to believe. The organization announced on Thursday that it uncovered documents showing that the FCC worked with a left-leaning organization who campaigned to regulate the internet. The group, ironically called Free Press, calls internet access a 'civil right', and calls for taxpayer funding to provide internet access to 'underserved' populations. Free Press was founded by the editor of the Monthly Review ('an independent Marxist journal) and a writer for The Nation, and receives funding from George Soros' Open Society Institute.
Among other tidbits uncovered by Judicial Watch:
On November 2, 2010, Free Press Associate Outreach Director Misty Perez Truedson sent an email to John Giusti, Chief of Staff to FCC Commissioner Michael Copps asking if Copps would write an op-ed for theAlbuquerque Journal in advance of a November 16 hearing on Internet access: “Would Commissioner Copps be interested in drafting an Op-ed in advance of the hearing? It’s a great way to get the word out and to spark conversations in advance of the event,” Truedson wrote. “We’re working on the op ed,” Giusti wrote back on November 9.
The documents also include a series of emails sent to set up meetings between Copps and former Free Press President John Silver. “We are starting to get a good sense of how we’d like to proceed during the next three tricky months on NN [net neutrality]…” Silver wrote in the same October 8, 2010, email: “I think it may make sense for us to get together next week when I’m in town.” The documents also include a written summary of a phone call between Silver and Copps on November 28, 2010, just prior to the FCC vote in December: “Silver emphasized that a strong net neutrality rule is critical to preserving the Internet as a vibrant forum for speech, commerce, innovation and cultural expression…” the summary noted.
One set of documents includes correspondence between FCC Special Counsel David Tannenbaum and Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott establishing lists of speakers for FCC “internet workshops.” Among the speakers proposed by Scott: “Joe Respars (ran online activism for the Obama campaign – he’s at Blue State Digital);” “Alex Nogales – National Hispanic Media Coalition;” “Jay Stanley – ACLU;” and “Clothilde de Coz [redacted] Reporters without Borders.”
When Tannenbaum asked Scott about inviting a speaker from Color for Change in a November 17, 2010 email, Scott writes: “Yes – we know them well. I should have put James Rucker on my list. He’s very good. Up and coming civil rights leader. They are awesome.
However, you should be aware that Color of Change is rather highly politicized. They are lead on the campaign to strip Glenn Beck of advertisers. And Van Jones is one of the founders. Not that these things should dissuade you from inviting them – I just wanted you to know.” (Van Jones was forced to resign from his position as Obama’s “Green Jobs czar,” in part because he had signed a petition in support of the 9/11 “Truther” movement, which believes the Bush administration masterminded the 9/11 terrorist attacks.)
In April 2010, a federal appeals court ruled that net neutrality exceeds the FCC's regulatory power. The FCC voted to regulate the internet in December 2010.