Yeah, well there's a title I never thought I'd write. It seems that Mike D of the Beastie Boys, along with his wife, filmmaker Tamra Davis, and John Silva (of Silva Artist Management, one of the more forward-thinking artist management groups out there, representing a ton of big name acts), have helped to get the SEC to require telcos (mainly AT&T) to include a resolution among shareholder votes
over whether or not those shareholders want the company to support wireless net neutrality concepts. Remember, the telcos have been willing to bend (a tiny bit) on wireline neutrality rules, so long as wireless rules have been exempt. So, letting shareholders vote on a resolution concerning wireless neutrality certainly could become a pretty big deal.
I've said in the past that I'm very, very wary of any net neutrality regulations from the government -- because we've all seen how that works, where the telcos take control of the process, and the end result is quite the opposite of what supporters intended. Regulatory capture can be a big deal. But... I am a big supporter in the importance of the concept of net neutrality and the principles of an end-to-end network. If it can be forced on these companies by shareholder proxy
that may be the most compelling solution so far. In the past, the SEC has said this issue was not a big enough issue
, and could be omitted from shareholder votes as "ordinary business matters." But, now the SEC has come around to realize that net neutrality is, in fact, a big issue, thanks in part to the letter from a group representing Mike D and the others mentioned above. The SEC responded in a pretty straightforward manner:
In view of the sustained public debate over the last several years concerning net neutrality and the Internet and the increasing recognition that the issue raises significant policy considerations, we do not believe that AT&T may omit the proposal from its proxy materials in reliance on rule 14a-8(i)(7).
Of course, who knows if enough shareholders will vote for such a thing. I could easily see a rather confused Wall Street thinking (incorrectly) that breaking the end-to-end principle would be good for business, even if it erodes network usefulness and value.