That said, I think AT&T is telling the truth when it says it has no intention of blocking content. It’s not so much because they’re awesome people, but because of self-interest. Blocking content is a bad idea for them because (1) it would trigger a massive political reaction; and (2) there’s no money in it.
On Point #1, blocking content (i.e., speech) is something the public would both easily understand and passionately oppose. And so companies have strenuously avoided doing that. As a result, it’s hard to find actual examples of content-blocking. (AT&T, for instance, always responds that opponents have no evidence of blocking). Thus, when you do find examples of content blocking, it’s like finding oppositional research gold. Rest assured that the Pearl Jam song will feature prominently in, oh, let’s say every comment filed at the FCC favoring net neutrality for the next two years. Again, it's an effective political weapon because blocking political speech is so simple and so objectionable -- e.g., “this big evil company blocked political speech.” That’s not hard to understand. And that’s why AT&T will worry about Vedder-gate.
On Point #2, understand that the ability to block content is not AT&T's endgame. It’s not what the broadband companies are fighting about. For them, the endgame in the net neutrality debate is the ability to do access tiering -- i.e., cutting deals with content providers and services to guarantee a higher quality of service (e.g., ensuring Google goes really fast on the high-speed lane). AT&T probably doesn’t care about content -- it just wants money. If the Rah-Rah-Go-Stalin-Go website paid up, I doubt AT&T would much care what they post.
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