Pearl Jam Stirs Up Net Neutrality Debate
A Pearl Jam performance seems to have stirred up the debate over Net Neutrality, or the effort underway in Washington that would bar Internet providers from giving preferential treatment to certain content on their networks.
Last weekend, an AT&T-sponsored webcast of Pearl Jam's Lollapolooza performance cut out some politically-charged lyrics aimed at President Bush. Since then, a slew of public interest groups, like SaveTheInternet.com Coalition, Free Press, Public Knowledge and the Future of Music Coalition, as well as the band itself, have attacked the company for censoring Web content.
AT&T said muting the lyrics was unintentional. In response to the criticism, AT&T said in a statement that a person in charge of monitoring content for profanity mistakenly edited out the lyrics. The company said it will work with Pearl Jam to post the uncut version of the song.
But the groups railing against AT&T don't seem to buy that explanation. They're pointing to the incident as a reason Congress should make content-blocking illegal.
AT&T and other Internet service providers have said they need flexibility to manage Internet traffic. They also say such legislation is unnecessary because there is no evidence that blocking is actually occurring. Under the conditions of AT&T's December purchase of BellSouth, AT&T temporarily agreed not to obstruct access to content on its network.
Net neutrality has long been a hot-button issue for consumer advocates and Internet companies, but it hasn't gotten a lot of attention on the Hill this year. Incidents like this might ignite that fire again.
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