In an appropriately scathing posting on his Wi-Fi blog, Glenn Fleishman goes after think tanks and lobbying organizations that seem, in at least some cases, to be what he calls "sock puppets" for the telecommunications-industry giants that want to stop municipally built data systems before they start.
The lack of transparency in the world of opinion-making is an ongoing scandal. What we have today is a system of opinion laundering, where powerful interests try to create public support for their side of issues without disclosing the hidden agendas. Media organizations then publish or broadcast credulous reports that may be grossly biased, without even hinting to news audiences what's going on.
We need far, far more transparency than we get the opinion-making business -- and don't kid yourself, it's big business. What we have, instead, are increasingly more sophisticated efforts to hide the laundering.
All of this is one reason why I recommend that you stop by Source Watch, formerly called Disinfopedia. It's a "a collaborative project to produce a directory of public relations firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests." (See, for example, the site's "How to Research Front Groups" explainer.)