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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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August 8, 2007 5:26 PM

AT&T censored Pearl Jam's political commentary

Posted by Brier Dudley

Still think net neutrality concerns are overblown? Keep in mind AT&T's "content monitors."

Pearl Jam protested when an overzealous AT&T content monitor cut political comments from a Web cast of the band's Lollapalooza performance on Sunday.

The Seattle band had inserted the lyrics "George Bush, leave this world alone" and "George Bush find yourself another home" into a song, but they were missing from the Web cast.

When asked, AT&T told Lollapalooza that the monitor made a mistake and the lyrics would be restored, according to a writeup today on Pearl Jam's Web site. An excerpt:

This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.

AT&T's actions strike at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.

The post was picked up by tech blogger Om Malik and others. I wonder if it will be a turning point in the debate over net neutrality.

As Pearl Jam pointed out, the incident undermines the public statements by the likes of AT&T's chief executive "that fears his company and other big network providers would block traffic on their networks are overblown."

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