- AT&T censored a live Pearl Jam concert stream in response to criticisms of President George W. Bush by the band’s lead singer Eddie Vedder;
- Verizon blocked text messages from the pro-choice advocacy group NARAL because Verizon deemed them to be “controversial”;
- Telus, a Canadian Telecom company, blocked the website of a union with which it was engaged in a labor dispute;
- AT&T limited its customers’ use of FaceTime to coerce them into buying more expensive data plans;
- AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon all blocked mobile wallet applications, like Google Wallet, that competed with their own mobile wallet application.
Some claim that without net neutrality, competition between internet service providers and telecom companies will root out this kind of nefarious behavior. But this hope is misplaced; you can’t have competition without a competitive market. Most Americans, and particularly here in Alaska, don’t have a choice between their network provider: it is, at best, an oligopoly, and at worst, a monopoly. The costs to build high-speed broadband service are so great, so there is very little competition, which is exactly why so many Alaskans have only one possible network provider to choose from. And manipulations of data are not always easy to detect. Content can be delayed or distorted in important but subtle ways. Without these safeguards, Alaskans will be left without recourse.