AT&T Admits To More Censorship
What has become the Net Neutrality proof of concept AT&T hoped wouldn’t come about – the censoring of a band with a cult following – is now no longer an isolated incident.
After the Peal Jam fiasco, AT&T came forward to say that "a handful" other bands in the past had been censored, though they wouldn’t elaborate on which bands, when, or what was cut out of the webcasts.
The company was quick to distance itself from the events, shifting blame to a third-party service in charge of monitoring the Blue Room webcasts for profanity, which means, as these things flow downward, somebody’s in a lot of trouble. An AT&T spokesperson assured critics similar incidents wouldn’t happen in the future.
As for the profanity monitoring in the all-ages Blue Room, fans around the Internet protested the statement, noting at least 20 instances in the Lollapalooza webcast where "the F-word" slipped through.
Further investigations from fans and MTV News identified previously censored webcasts from Bonnaroo, another popular concert. The bands muted there include the Flaming Lips, the John Butler Trio, and comments made by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.
That Rage Against the Machine was edited is somewhat sublime irony, considering it was a crucial cog in "the machine" that attempted to silence the rage.
CNet quotes Future of Music Coalition executive director Jenny Toomey, who makes a poignant argument:
"If AT&T can’t be trusted to Webcast the political stage banter of a few rock bands, why would we turn the keys to the Internet over to them? Their promises to not block Internet content now ring hollow."
But the real biters come from Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, as quoted at MTV.com:
Surely the American listening public can discern for themselves what they deem acceptable to hear. This is a hallmark of our American way! The freedom to listen to what you want or don’t want to. The American public was duped as was I in believing that I can speak freely without censorship….
When one person or company decides what others can hear, that is totalitarian thinking! This runs contrary to America and threatens the core of our freedom. We can think for ourselves, AT&T.