AT&T sponsored a webcast of the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago last weekend. But, AT&T's "content monitor" decided to cut parts of a song where Pearl Jam made reference to the President. Pearl Jam, Lollapalooza Webcast: Sponsored/Censored by AT&T?: "
When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.
During the performance of 'Daughter' the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the Wall' but were cut from the webcast:
- 'George Bush, leave this world alone.' (the second time it was sung); and
- 'George Bush find yourself another home.'
This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media."
Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge discusses this as a problem of trust and the dangers of allowing internet access providers to prioritize the bits moving through their networks-- speech is always a casualty. Public Knowledge Calls AT&T Censoring of Pearl Jam ‘Appalling’: "How can we trust a company that promises not to interfere with content on the Internet when it has its corporate finger on the button to cut off political criticisms it doesn’t like? The admitted censoring of a Pearl Jam performance is just one more reason why content should be protected against the actions of a company looking out for itself, rather than for consumers and the free flow of information over the Internet."
David Isenberg considers that this is a perfect example of the different ways that net neutrality advocates and telecom providers view and frame the concept of a neutral internet. Net neutrality advocates see it as an issue of free speech. Telecom providers see it as an issue of the freedom to conduct business. AT&T Censors Pearl Jam . . . and?: ""We Netheads must understand that to the telcos and cablecos, its all about the money. Talking to them about First Amendment Rights don't mean squat. To them, its all about the money. As long as it is in their interests to discriminate -- to charge what the market will bear on each transaction -- discrimination will create barriers to free speech and innovation. Because to them, it is all about the money."
Derek Slater, EFF, How Ma Bell Fought for Your Privacy - 80 Years Ago: "Once upon a time, nearly eighty years ago, AT&T fought at the Supreme Court to stop the government's warrantless surveillance of Americans' private communications. How times have changed."