AT&T Stockholders Demand Explanation for Pearl Jam Censorship
The indefatigable Howie Klein tells you why you should care about Net Neutrality:
Institutional investors aren’t usually left-wing radicals, especially not the types who invest in traditional, vanilla companies like AT&T. But AT&T’s shareholders are “alarmed” by the Pearl Jam controversy and some of the company’s biggest investors are asking for more information on management practices. Trillium Asset Management is a socially responsible investment firm with about one billion dollars under management. That includes over 200,000 shares of AT&T (over $7.5 million worth). Trillium sent a letter to Randall Stepehnson, AT&T’s Chairman and CEO which states that “the controversy comes at a ‘particularly inopportune moment’ for AT&T as the company lobbies against proposed laws and regulations that would limit its prerogatives as a gatekeeper of information flows across the internet–so-called ‘net neutrality’ policies. Trillium Asset Management’s letter noted that AT&T’s position ‘has always turned on assurances that the Company would never interfere with content passing through its pipes.'”
Take a look at the Pearl Jam YouTube above. It’s a bit hard to swallow that this was a “mistake,” especially since similar edits were made to the Flaming Lips and the John Butler Trio at the Bonnaroo festival earlier this summer.
Corporations under pressure from shareholders to divest from companies doing business in South Africa (especially institutional shareholders) was one of the things that hastened the end of apartheid and it’s a tactic that deserves more attention. But the whole incident underscores why compromising on net neutrality is not an option for a society that values free speech.
AT&T needs to keep their hands off the damn toobz.