FCC: Public Debate Keeps ISPs At Bay

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Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps cited AT&T’s recent censorship of a Pearl Jam concert as evidence for the necessity of Network Neutrality to preserve democracy and freedom of speech.

Copps also said that, because of the raucous public debate about Net Neutrality, Internet service providers, in general, have been on good behavior so the public can’t point fingers.

So the Pearl Jam incident is what you might call a big disaster for AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, who’ve placed their bets on a non-neutral world, and have spent vast sums lobbying the government to prevent oversight.

In an interview with Net Neutrality campaigner Matt Stoller, Copps called the Internet "perhaps the most dynamic and liberating" technology in human history.

"So when something like the episode occurs with Pearl Jam that you’re referencing that ought to concern all of us," he said.

"It ought to concern us whether we’re liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, young or old, because if you can do it for one group you can do it to any group and say well it’s not intentional and things like that."

AT&T came forward last week and admitted to the inadvertent censorship of "a handful" of other bands that includes Rage Against the Machine and the Flaming Lips. The company shifted blame for the incidents, all of which involved political speech and not profanity, to a third party monitoring service.

Things as they are now, with no Net Neutrality assurances whatsoever, Copps reiterates that there is no mechanism in place to prevent incidents like this in the future. Drawing on a more historically accurate, common sense approach, rather than an overall philosophy that is more pleasing to the ear than it is true, Copps warns that where there incentive and ability to do something, it most likely will be done.

"We are seriously in danger of going down another road and it seems to me if you look back over history, if you have the power, the technology to do something, and you have a commercial or business incentive to do it, you can be damn sure someone’s going to try it somewhere down the line."

FCC: Public Debate Keeps ISPs At Bay
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