Mike D of the Beastie Boy to Rock the AT&T Net Neutrality VoteBy: Chris Richardson - February 15, 2012
When AT&T holds their next annual shareholder voting process, the SEC is commanding that net neutrality be included in the list of items to be voted on. This means shareholders will be allowed to at least influence AT&T’s postion on providing a truly neutral wireless Internet to their mobile subscribers.
Naturally, AT&T resisted such a stipulation, which was spearheaded, in part, at least, by Beastie Boy Mike D, who’s legal name is Michael Diamond. According to BusinessWeek.com, Diamond, his wife, movie director Tamara Davis, and John P. Silva of Silva Artist Management are represented by Trillium, an asset management collective, which was one of the chief movers in relation to getting such topics including on the shareholders ballot.
In a letter from the SEC, the idea of denying shareholders the right to vote on these issues is not in the plans:
“In view of the sustained public debate over the last several years concerning net neutrality and the Internet and the increasing recognition that the issue raises significant policy considerations, we do not believe that AT&T may omit the proposal from its proxy materials,” the SEC said in the Feb. 10 letter.
The position of the shareholders, at least the group represented by Trillium, is that net neutrality is something these wireless providers should adhere to:
The shareholder resolution would recommend each company “publicly commit to operate its wireless broadband network consistent with network neutrality principles,” the letter said. The companies should not discriminate based on the “source, ownership or destination” of data sent over their wireless infrastructure.
Naturally, AT&T opposes net neutrality because it would “directly interfere with its network management practices and seriously impair its ability to provide wireless broadband service to its customers.” Apparently, the nice about speaking in such general terms is that no one will demand that AT&T quantify these statements with some tangible evidence. In light of that, the pressure applied by the Trillium group was much-needed.
The question going forward is, how will AT&T respond if the majority of their shareholders support a neutral net? Will they continue to toe the party line with more nonsense about net neutrality impeding their ability to provide wireless broadband service or will they miraculously see the light and change their tune?