AT&T's Pearl Jam Fiasco

I guess AT&T will think twice in the future if it -- or anyone working for the cell phone giant -- tries to censor a rock performance.

They got burned when AT&T admitted to Lollapalooza concert officials that portions of the show were cut from the webcast.

During the performance of "Daughter" these lyrics were sung by Pearl Jam to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall", but they never made it onto the webcast:

"George Bush, leave this world alone." (the second time it was sung).

"George Bush find yourself another home".

Listen for yourself.

If it makes you feel any better, AT&T apologized for censoring the song.

It doesn't make me feel much better.

The Internet is a vast space that promises freedoms of all kind. Freedom of expression is one of them. We tolerate many things in the name of freedom. This kind of action makes me wonder whether some fail to comprehend the importance of so-called "net neutrality".

Many companies don't like the words "net neutrality". They want people to trust their judgment.

Trusting anyone's judgment other than your own is forfeiting the rights that go along with freedom of speech. That's why this incident is an important one.

You could look at it as a mistake with an apology and that's that. But it's really a wake-up call.

Providers have no right to censor content on the Internet.

Consumers have other options.

They can take this advice from CNET writer Marguerite Reardon, "any provider that blocks access to content is inviting customers to find another provider."

Now Pearl Jam on its website is asking fans to report "examples of AT&T censoring artist performances around political content."

AT&T has gotten itself into a lot of trouble.

The citizenry can't be too outraged when freedom of expression is concerned.

To borrow a phrase from one of AT&T's ad campaigns back in the day in making the apology they made "the right choice".

It would be better if they now championed "net neutrality" instead of reluctantly tolerating it. If not, AT&T will pay a bigger price the next time it has a lapse in good judgment.

The Internet is everybody's place -- not the domain or fiduciary of big corporations and government.

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