make-believe.org

Let your fingers do the lynching

While we're on the topic of Telstra and football, I went to a game at the Docklands over the weekend. During the quarter breaks, the scoreboard exhorted the 40,000-odd crowd to protest against 'the ACCC, which is shirt-fronting highspeed broadband in Australia', among other dubious footballing metaphors, by clicking on some buttons at nowwearetalking.com.au. (The ACCC is Australia's competition regulator — it has the authority to rebuke businesses for practices that it deems anti-competitive.) The ads carried no branding, and the only mention of Telstra was in the hasty 'authorised by' line at the end of the message.

Telstra is obviously playing bully here. It's clear to most observers that Telstra is the primary obstructor (as it has been for oh, ten years?) preventing the development of internationally and nationally competitive broadband services in Australia.

Which, ironically, is exactly what nowwearetalking.com.au was saying late last week:

nwat_poll1

I don't have much sympathy for Telstra's rivals in this whole debate either — it's pretty clear that everyone wants to make a buck out of the big goldmines along this new frontier, and the only entity that might even conceivably have the interests of consumers at heart (the ACCC?) is in way over its head.

But far more objectionable is this craven, cynical attempt by Telstra to mobilise citizenry on the back of blatant misinformation, manipulating their desires without giving them the facts — 'we're trying to bring you faster broadband, but the regulator won't let us'.

When social leaders stir up other elements of society with this sort of mischief, the result is a lynch mob. And that's precisely what Telstra is trying to achieve with nowwearetalking: an on-line lynch mob to do its dirty work.

I'm glad someone kicked them in the balls for it. And of course it was someone in particular — probably a five line script written out-of-hours by an Optus or Primus employee. Sadly, it wasn't a bit of push-back from the citizenry. But still, Telstra got very churlish about it:

nwat_poll2

Joseph | 14 May 2007

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