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AT&T Announces Plans to Filter Copyright Content 436

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bad-idea dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The LA Times reports that AT&T has announced plans to work with the Hollywood movie studios and major recording labels to implement new content filtering systems on their network. The plans raise many troubling legal issues including privacy concerns, false positive filtering, and liability for failure to filter."
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AT&T Announces Plans to Filter Copyright Content

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  • Oh good... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:09PM (#19498221)
    I was wondering when they were going to give up their common carrier status. Now they can all go to jail for monopoly!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:23PM (#19498429)
      ISPs are not common carriers. There is a difference between voice and data, according to (stupid) law.
      • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @07:15PM (#19498959) Homepage
        AT&T may not be a "Common Carrier" with respect to data, but it is (was) provided immunity by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act [wikipedia.org]:

        No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
        In analyzing the availability of the immunity offered by this provision, courts generally apply a three-prong test. A defendant must satisfy each of the three prongs to gain the benefit of the immunity:
        1. The defendant must be a "provider or user" of an "interactive computer service."
        2. The cause of action asserted by the plaintiff must "treat" the defendant "as the publisher or speaker" of the harmful information at issue.
        3. The information must be "provided by another information content provider," i.e., the defendant must not be the "information content provider" of the harmful information at issue.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I am not a lawyer, but this looks like AT&T would be immune to prosecution for blocking any "pirated"/grey copyrighted content carried over its lines as long as it isn't actually hosting the work. That is, if the work isn't actually on att.com or sbc.*.com, AT&T won't get in trouble for blocking us from it.
          Is this right?
          • by Dread Pirate Skippy (963698) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @08:40PM (#19499655)
            It seems to me to be more along the lines of, there's no real legal need for AT&T to do this, as they're already immune to prosecution by copyright holders if users transmit copyrighted information across their networks. Thus, the only reason they would have to implement something like this involves the crisp, green lining in their pockets getting a bit thicker.

            But IANAL either, so the cycle of speculation continues.
            • It seems to me to be more along the lines of, there's no real legal need for AT&T to do this, as they're already immune to prosecution by copyright holders [snip]. Thus, the only reason they would have to implement something like this involves the crisp, green lining in their pockets getting a bit thicker.

              Or it could be the RIAA/MPAA suggesting to AT&T that cracking down on piracy would be a good way to avoid dealing with hordes of high-priced entertainment industry lawyers for many years....

    • Re:Oh good... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DDLKermit007 (911046) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @09:06PM (#19499861)
      The real question is have is how is this supposed to make them money? Any investors that find out about this should be throwing a shitfit, and replacing anyone involved with this. Decisions like this look to make AT&T LOSE more money than they gain. Time spent on a such a dumbassed idea, pissed off customers, lawsuits when they fail to filter, lawsuits for filtering the wrong content, etc. This makes beyond no sense.
  • Ouch. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Short Circuit (52384)

    The plans raise many troubling legal issues including privacy concerns, false positive filtering, and liability for failure to filter
    ...and loss of common-carrier status.
    • Re:Ouch. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:11PM (#19498259) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, I don't get that either. They can have the absolute best filtering software in the world, and it will all go tits up the moment the client encrypts his communications. The users will continue to swap pirated material, and AT&T will find itself on the legal hook for it.

      I mean, how stupid can you get?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jon787 (512497)
        Ah but SSL/TLS can be detected and they can just block it.
        • Re:Ouch. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:28PM (#19498493) Homepage Journal
          This will render ecommerce impossible, and I'm sure that if they go to that extent, they'll block VPN and ssh, which will make a home internet connection useful only for instant messaging, viewing porn, and arguing endlessly on slashdot. ;)
          • Re:Ouch. (Score:5, Funny)

            by tx_kanuck (667833) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:31PM (#19498533)
            what are you talking about? We don't endlessly argue on slashdot!!! Everything here is nice and polite.
          • Re:Ouch. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @08:07PM (#19499455) Homepage Journal

            (T)hey'll block VPN and ssh, which will make a home internet connection useful only for instant messaging, viewing porn, and arguing endlessly

            Bingo. That's the whole idea. This internet thing has been nothing but a headache to those in power anyway. You get foul-mouthed hippie bloggers who say bad things about our sainted politicians, you have web sites that actually help people find the lowest prices on products, and there are even ways for people on the internet to send messages that are hard to eavesdrop. We can't have that, now, can we?

            The ideal internet for the people who run things would be a place where people shop, watch movies and TV (but only what they pay for) and buy songs from iTunes and msTunes and sonyTunes and warnerTunes. It's OK for folks to talk to one another, as long as they do it over a clear channel (say!) and they can post pictures of their dogs and babies but not police beating protesters or (God forbid!) that troublemaker Michael Moore.

            Once this mess of an internet gets straightened out, people will have all the freedom they could want, as long as it's within these reasonable parameters.

            Oh, I forgot: THE CHILDREN! THE CHILDREN!
        • If they block encryption, they'd start losing customers in spades. Although only nerds might notice if SSH/VPNs/VNC failed to work, everyone would notice if they can't access Amazon or their bank online.
        • But HTTP underneath SSL/TLS which happens to be tunneled inside of plain HTTP (or any other "legitmate" protocol) would still not be blocked. No matter what, to have perfect (or, I would say, even adequate) filtering, they would have to be omniscient regarding the intention behind the contents of all packets. Or just unplug everything.
        • by maxwells_deamon (221474) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @07:20PM (#19498997) Homepage
          Real time is the KEY here. They promise to block and not to just detect.

          Sure, you can detect ssh, etc, known protocals and block them.

          But if today the server encripted an MP3 file with rot13 no computer would automatically detect it as an mp3. And tomarow they just do it different. Tomarrow they make a jpg out of it. Change the extention and Bob's your uncle.

          An application is written that everytime it starts it downloads a plugin with todays encription standard. There is no way they could even think of keeping up without breaking things for there customers on a daily basis.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CastrTroy (595695)
            This is kind of like my idea for torrents. Back when SuprNova was crashing under the pressure of too many users, I thought they should just make a daily torrent of all the torrents, and have a web server with static links to those torrents. So, you download the torrent list over bit torrent, and browse and search it on your own computer. Then you just download the stuff you want. Simple, with no websites needed to distribute the actual torrents, and the authorities have nobody to shut down.
      • Re:Ouch. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by daeg (828071) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:22PM (#19498407)
        Exactly. By the time AT&T gets anywhere with filtering, BitTorrent clients will come with encryption enabled by default and will all select a random set of ports.

        Is AT&T suggesting they can somehow go up against an encrypted, data-heavy connection using random ports? Or even well-known ports like 443? You can't very well just block long transfers, either. If you do that, P2P clients will be programmed to cycle connections, only transmitting one MB or such per connection before resetting.

        Best to build for the capacity you sell to your users. If you can't handle what you sold, downgrade their plans, raise prices, or install new lines.

        I'm not for piracy at all, but the ISPs should stay out of criminal and civil matters altogether until they have a public order from a judge instructing them otherwise.
        • Re:Ouch. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by aztracker1 (702135) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @07:20PM (#19498999) Homepage
          Well, given block/chunk size in bittorrent clients, they should recover from any sporadic disconnects after 1-2 blocks are transferred, will have an increased overhead in terms of new connections, but should still work... I also have to agree that AT&T should stay out of content blocking... I know that if I hosted britney_spears.mp3, which turned out to be a commentary file, and it was blocked, I might have something to sue about... AT&T is opening a can of worms on the legitimate side alone.. I know for a fact I wouldn't use AT&T for services before, let alone now.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sudog (101964)
          They already have. Encrypted data is just as easy to profile as unencrypted. They can just block that too. You'll have to waste bandwidth to create subliminal channels and by that point there will *be* no point. People have some pretty strange notions of what encryption can actually buy them. I think it's actually steganography that you are implying will somehow magically save you from AT&T filtering. But it won't.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by roseanne (541833)
        Here's the problem as I see it: AT&T knows that ISPs have to compete on service, price and network superiority. There's not too much room to "add value" to their network (i.e., offer proprietary services that work best on AT&T's network). They're betting that by adding legit content and keeping off 'pirate' content, they can create a network that not-very-expert users who want video-on-demand etc will use, and that their competitors will do this anyway to keep up.

        And what they will probably do is ag
      • Encrypt everything (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:28PM (#19498503) Homepage Journal

        They can have the absolute best filtering software in the world, and it will all go tits up the moment the client encrypts his communications
        Yes, P is right. Now we should start writing free, low-strength, fast encrytion/decryption software. Nothing that requires the NSA to break, but just enough to make it economically impractical for ATT to decrypt.
        • by dave562 (969951)
          I propose using fnord 23 bit keys.
        • by Phil Karn (14620) <karn@ka 9 q . n et> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @07:07PM (#19498885) Homepage
          Why write low-strength encryption software when high-strength software already exists and is plenty fast? Why do people just assume that high-strength cryptography has to be unacceptably slow?

          For years I've routinely encrypted as much of my communications as I can (e.g., when I control both ends of the connection) and the overhead is completely invisible.

    • Yeah, if they hadn't lost it already this is the golden nail in their CC status's coffin.
    • Re:Ouch. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:21PM (#19498387)
      As I understand it, the telcos aren't common-carriers with regards to so-called "data services" anyway, so they can perfectly well get away with this. Granted the distinction between a voice service and a data service is technologically non-existent anymore, but from a legal perspective it's still very important (as it happens, I have AT&T's Callvantage VoIP service at home ... which set of laws would apply to AT&T in the case?) That's part of the law that does need to be changed, I think.

      Now, whether or not they'll have many customers when it's all over is another story. The moment my ISP starts making decisions for me about what I can and cannot download is the day I find another provider. If there aren't any other providers, then I'm going to drive to Washington, D.C. (probably none of us will be able to actually board aircraft at that point), grab Orrin Hatch and a few other select Congresspeople by their lapels and shake some sense into them.

      What's amazing about this is the level of influence the media companies are able to wield, in both the government and private sectors. Honestly, they must have some part of their organization whose only job it is to dig up dirt on Congressmen and corporate CEOs. Otherwise I can't see why AT&T would just roll over on this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Volante3192 (953645)
        As I understand it, the telcos aren't common-carriers with regards to so-called "data services" anyway, so they can perfectly well get away with this.

        This leads me to wonder, if they don't have common-carrier status to data transmission, why hasn't anyone brought the big telcos up for allowing illegal material to go across on their data lines? Seems to me if there wasn't CC status given to data, those types of cases would be slam dunks.

        Plus, if they try doing this for copyright violations, what's to keep
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by loners (561941)
          The Safe Harbor provision of the DMCA.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Volante3192 (953645)
            DMCA applies to copyright violations, not outright illegal material. (Hence the 'C' part of the acronym.) You don't send a DMCA takedown to a child pornographer or someone passing around leaked state secrets or whatever else; you send in the FBI right then.
          • Re:Ouch. (Score:5, Informative)

            by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @07:56PM (#19499319)
            The safe harbor provision of the DMCA applicable to carriers (there are different provisions for hosts and caches) requires, in part, that, for its protection to be available, that the "transmission, routing, provision of connections, or storage" of material be carried out "without selection of the material by the service provider". (17 U.S.C. Sec. 512(a)(2))

            I don't know if there is any case law yet on this, but at first blush it would seem that the more selectivity the carrier applies to what content is allowed and what is blocked, the less clear it is that they are within the protection of the safe harbor. And while it might seem paradoxical that the carrier could become more liable for copyright infringement for blocking some infringing materials, there is a good reason for this—it makes a carrier choose whether it wants copyright to be the responsibility of the users (and thus, it is "hands off"), or whether it wants to seek the potential rewards (in terms of favorable details with copyright holders to monitor and enforce) along with the potential costs (in terms of liability to those whose rights are violated despite the carrier's intervention) of taking a "hands on" policy.
    • Doesn't every large ISP these days already do some amount of content filtering? i.e., anti-spam?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pavon (30274)
        The big question is whether this filtering is just for their DSL and F2P customers, or also for the huge chunk of the backbone that they own and operate. The articles that I have read seem to suggest the latter.
      • by Phil Karn (14620) <karn@ka 9 q . n et> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @07:42PM (#19499171) Homepage
        Spam filters like Spamassassin actually work remarkably well. Why? Because spam recipients, by definition, are unwilling. The users, filter maintainers, blacklist operators, ISPs and sometimes even the government are all willing to cooperate to a common goal.

        It's an entirely different story when you have two resourceful parties who want to communicate and will deploy all sorts of resourceful defenses and countermeasures -- starting with end-to-end encryption -- to ensure that they can continue to communicate. Stopping spam is absolutely trivial by comparison.

  • It'll be neat... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:12PM (#19498275)
    ... when AT+T takes down an iTMS download of a purchased movie for being a copy. Which, of course, it would be. Merely one being paid for correctly.
  • Easily defeated (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HeavensBlade23 (946140) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:12PM (#19498277)
    Just put everything in a passworded protected archive. Hell, I bet you could even skip the password protected part, since opening every archive that comes across the wire would be prohibitively slow.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Just encrypt the data stream.

      In theory, even if they can decrypt, its a crime to do so. Yes, i know there are issues with it beign 'their network' and service terms, but i bet its illegal to wholsale decrypt since not all traffic is theirs since you cant personally control where your packets go along the way to their destination..

      And if you use strong enough encryption it would take years to pass packets, rendering their network unusable and no customers would put up with that...
  • by glindsey (73730) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:12PM (#19498279)
    I had been considering switching from Comcast to AT&T as soon as DSL became available at my house... so much for that idea.

    Encryption forever!
  • No surprise here (Score:4, Informative)

    by jpetts (208163) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:13PM (#19498281)
    This is not surprising in the least. AT&T has a dishonourable history of sticking it to the consumer whenever anyone asks them to.

    Most notable is the current lawsuit against them alleging collusion with the NSA in massive illegal domestic wiretapping [eff.org].
  • We need to wait for all those dinosaur top managers to retire.

    Practically every business I know is managed by someone who started managing before the personal computer revolution. It surprises me, but in more than a decade they don't seem to have learned anything. They hit blindly without understanding what they are doing, or even caring what they are doing.

    We are seeing in our culture HUGE disrespect for technically knowledgeable people. The wild imaginings of someone who knows nothing are considered better than the counsel of those who have learned how things work.
    • by DimGeo (694000)
      I've said it before: those managers are the greatest! You can get hired to re-implement the same broken scheme time and again and get paid each time for "doing" it! :) Not that I would, of course... it would be... unethical...
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:38PM (#19498607) Homepage Journal

      We are seeing in our culture HUGE disrespect for technically knowledgeable people. The wild imaginings of someone who knows nothing are considered better than the counsel of those who have learned how things work.

      We're talking about a culturally pervasive issue, though. Although I hate to bring it into a discussion here for various obvious reasons, Al Gore's Truth movie raises this point quite significantly. We have nothing but contempt for the only people actually qualified to make decisions on a scientific basis in this country.

      Frankly, I blame this on religion, which has a stranglehold on many aspects of our existence here.

      • by wall0159 (881759)
        I dunno - we have similar attitudes here in Australia, but we don't have pervasive religion like you do in the U.S.

        Then again.... we do have TV sport... hmm...

        point retracted.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Frankly, I blame this on religion, which has a stranglehold on many aspects of our existence here.

        This may not sound right to some, but it's dead on! Especially certain religions, which seem focused on the 'fact' that their God beats all and and that makes them right and everyone else wrong. No comment on which ones.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by martinX (672498)

          Especially certain religions, which seem focused on the 'fact' that their God beats all and and that makes them right and everyone else wrong. No comment on which ones.
          All of them?
      • It has little to do with religion other than sharing a common cause.

        It's simple "ostrich" mentality. "If I stick my head in the sand, it'll all go away and I won't have to change my beliefs or routine. LALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU..."

        Morons. And they're giving religion a bad (worse?) name.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Doctor_Jest (688315) *
        Sticking one's head in the sand and ignoring evidence to the contrary isn't a new phenomenon, and it's not solely the parlance of the religious... just the stupid... whether or not the stupid are religious I think is secondary to their stupidity. If they worshiped a can of Snow Peas, or their left toe wouldn't change the fact that they are idiots, and sometimes those same idiots are in charge (bleh!)

        IOW, morons have been around long before we had organized religion to put a name to the unnamed "fear" of ch
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          IOW, morons have been around long before we had organized religion to put a name to the unnamed "fear" of change. ;)

          While I agree with you (and others in this thread, whose comment yours appeared above, thus garnering a reply) that religion is not a requirement for stupidity, and while I feel that not all religious people are stupid, there is a certain willful ignorance that at least seems more common among the religious than the atheistic or agnostic. I guess the thing that really stands out in my mind ri

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We need to wait for all those dinosaur top managers to retire.

      Practically every business I know is managed by someone who started managing before the personal computer revolution. It surprises me, but in more than a decade they don't seem to have learned anything. They hit blindly without understanding what they are doing, or even caring what they are doing.

      We are seeing in our culture HUGE disrespect for technically knowledgeable people. The wild imaginings of someone who knows nothing are considered bette

    • AT&T is not AT&T now, because the name was sold [att.com] to an abusive west coast telephone company named SBC.

      My understanding is that everything else of value in the original AT&T was sold piece-by-piece, and SBC bought mostly just the name. My understanding is that the SBC trademark was worse than useless because the company is so abusive. So, the managers bought another name.

      Apparently, for $16 Billion SBC got AT&T's VOIP [businessweek.com] customers, and the AT&T name.

      AT&T's VOIP customers were Sheila and Gerald Funk, who have since moved to Elbonia. Wait... That last sentence my contain an error.

      So, what we are seeing is SBC mismanagement under a new name. Soon just saying the name AT&T will cause people to become upset.
  • Not to mention loss of common carrier service.

    Watch a snuff movie that came via a AT&T subscribed line? Blame them. ("Well, I knew that AT&T blocks illegal content. And I was allowed to download it. Therefore it must be legal.")
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Aside from that rational, dont forget in theory they get held liable for any 'bad content' on their network now and open themselves up to tons of lawsuits and fines.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:16PM (#19498333) Homepage Journal
    If Firefox and Apache both made HTTPS their default protocol instead of HTTP, AT&T wouldn't be able to invade any of our private traffic that happens to get routed over their WANs. Then they'd have only their Net Doublecharge, preferential routing between IPs paying their extortion fees, to work against us, and that gambit will likely get killed by the government that otherwise protects AT&T's resurgent monopoly.

    If we act now, while we still can, before AT&T and their telco/cableco cartel shuts us down.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:50PM (#19498729)
      If we act now, while we still can, before AT&T and their telco/cableco cartel shuts us down.

      We're almost convinced, but I think we need a few more random bold tags before it can happen...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Try saying it out loud, emphasizing the words in bold. You can do it. You'll gradually learn to understand how to read silently, with the emphasis in appropriate places, and maybe even stop moving your lips while you read. It'll be harder for you to understand the words, why some are emphasized, and how it's not random. But with practice, you'll learn to fool listeners into believing that you know how to read.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This makes total sense, if they dont do this they are underutilizing their networking spying equipment. You need to keep that gear operating for a certain number of years in order to make the total cost of ownership values work out.
  • Won't work. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:18PM (#19498355) Journal
    It won't work. If they block P2P, people will use a different port. If they search traffic for P2P, people will use encryption. If they look at traffic analysis, people will figure out how to disguise traffic patterns. And so on.

    And by people, I mean that a few clever hackers will implement it and everyone will just use it (kind of like bittorrent).

    Of course, they could start by blocking youtube... that'll make them really popular.

    Well, the figure for losses about bootlegs I can kind of believe. After all you have to pay cash for a bootleg, and that is real money which isn't going to the copyright holder. The figure for online piracy seems like one of those bogus ones. It is only a loss if the person would otherwise have paid. I doubt that they have a good way of measuring that.

    And finally, can we PLEASE get some accuracy in the titles. Everything (bar public domain) is under copyright. If they filtered out copyright content, there would be nothing left for the customers. How would they even find the public domain content without any search engine's copyrighted front (and filtered) page?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Greyfox (87712)
      Yes. Common carrier status allows them to avoid escalating that war but as soon as they start filtering they'll lose that, and that means that they will be required to inspect (And probably retain for some period) all their customers' traffic.

      So there's AT&T, forced to fight a war it can not possibly win and each time they tighten the screws they'll piss off more of their customer base. And the data retention costs will just keep going up and up. Oh yeah. They really want to open that can of worms.

      He

  • ...who your real customers are.
  • By actively filtering content, I would think that AT&T would be giving up it's legal protection as a common carrier and the safe harbor protection that status gives them under DMCA and other copyright laws. It may make the copyright cartels happy, but I think it'll be opening up a whole lot of other liability issues.
  • So, they're going to give up their common carrier status? I guess they want to be legally liable when child porn is distributed over their network. Can't wait to see their top execs go to prison for sex crimes.
  • One could argue that if AT&T can filter copyrighted content, they can filter p0rn. When they don't, some lawsuit will argue that they should have: Why won't AT&T think of the children?
  • AT&T has moved into pay television services and says "its interests are more closely aligned with Hollywood."
    To sum up: Greed.
  • Few doubt that piracy is a significant problem. The major U.S. studios lost $2.3 billion last year to online piracy and an additional $3.8 billion to bootleg DVDs, according to industry statistics.

    Uh, I suspect that "few" means that "the few who have examined the industries claimed 'losses' and compared them to actual revenue".
  • by Nymz (905908) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:39PM (#19498627) Journal
    Unless you believe that companies (AT&T, Google, MS) and government agencies (Big Brother) have a right to listen in on every conversation you have, review every site you visit, and examine every transaction you make, then either don't let them or stop complaining.

    Instead of sending everything by postcard, send everything by envelope (encrypted), and stop expecting every lawyer, politician, company, government agency, and identity thief to respect your privacy.
    • by timmarhy (659436)
      your overly simplistic view does not work. most people are flat out using email let alone encryption.
  • by overshoot (39700) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:40PM (#19498643)
    to get my holiday movies from North Africa to my relatives on NewATT?

    I'm guessing they're not going to like a file transfer of casablanca.mov

  • by BlueMikey (1112869) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:43PM (#19498655)

    If AT&T is going to start watching every single thing its users does and the users have no recourse whatsoever, I say it is time to end the monopoly that cable and wired ISPs and phone companies have in most areas and let competition reign. If I had the choice between a company that is going to spy on me and give anything they think is suspicious to the RIAA/MPAA or paying a few extra bucks to a company that will truly honor my privacy, the choice would be extremely easy.

    Instead, I'm stuck with one cable company and one DSL company servicing my area. Thanks, local government.

  • piratebay blocked (Score:5, Informative)

    by seven of five (578993) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @06:51PM (#19498741) Homepage
    I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but when I put the url of piratebay in my browser a blocking service page came up. First time I saw anything like this. I get DSL in Chicago thru, I guess it's AT&T now...

    This is all well and good if it's like a parental control thing but I'm a 50 year old paying customer and I'm not used to getting flipped off by my ISP. I suppose I should be looking over my shoulder.
    • Odd thought (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nehumanuscrede (624750) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @07:46PM (#19499215)
      The article doesn't mention AT&T as an ISP. It merely states they plan on filtering this content as it runs across their network. Well, the bad news is that most ISP data in the US traverses the AT&T network in the form of optical longhaul systems ( Read that Sonet ) at some point in it's journey. Your ISP leases lines from Company X who, in turn, leases their lines from AT&T. Is similar to when your WoW session is hit with a lag storm and you start yelling at your ISP to ' FIX YOUR SH*T ', when it's actually an optical level issue on lines owned by someone else that is taking the data longhaul across the country. Sprint, AT&T, whatever ) Given the technology that allowed the NSA to split the optical signal so they could watch traffic, I wonder if they're considering applying their ' filtering ' technology in the same manner. In other words, would they act as big brother over all the data packets that travel ' their ' pipes and filter anything they feel is necessary ?
  • So does this mean anything that makes is past their filters is OK to use how ever I want?

    -ted

  • Glad to see the US ISPs joining the ranks of Chinese ISP
  • Watch as their customers drop them like the plague.

  • You do understand... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <.imipak. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @07:28PM (#19499057) Homepage Journal
    ...that in many countries, when a carrier censors content, it automatically loses "common carrier" status and becomes liable for what it carries. In other words, AT&T probably can't be sued right now for movies on their lines, but if they censor those lines and miss something - however accidental - they are liable. In the UK, carriers have been sued into bankrupcy after losing common carrier status. I don't know if this is true in the US, but if it is and someone wants to go digging for gold, they would be doing everyone a huge favour.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @07:59PM (#19499355) Homepage Journal
    This almost sounds like a setup ' see, we tried, but you cant do it on the network side we need legistlative help'. Then congress mandates an 'approved/trusted' OS+connection software+local monitoring software to get online. ( and of course new hardware to go with it so you cant disable anything 'bad' while offline either )

    If you try to conect with anything other then the above either it doesnt work, or you get reported for an 'attempted circumvention'.

    Scary times ahead.
  • by FellowConspirator (882908) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @08:36PM (#19499627)
    Every post on Slashdot is copyrighted -- it's a creative form of expression in a fixed medium (namely bits on a disk somewhere). Yet here they are... How can that be? It's because the posters are granting a public license to view their work, implicitly by placing it in a public forum.

    The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the content flowing through AT&T's networks are copyrighted. It's not sufficient that a work is copyrighted, but rather that the exchange itself is a violation of copyright. But how can the computer know? If you have a license to the work through some asset purchase, it's not infringing; if you have a license agreement that grants certain rights to obtain/distribute copies, it's not infringement; if you are using the content for academic research, the purpose of criticism, or in parody, it's not infringing. So, how is their computer system to know, a priori, of the legal arrangements, or your intent to use a work? What if you live in a jurisdiction that doesn't recognize the copyright (e.g., it may be public domain because the copyright expired in your jurisdiction).

    The point is that it's technically not feasible to police copyrights. AT&T may be inerefering with network traffic on behalf of a third party for fun and profit, but they are most certainly not protecting copyrights. It's a little disingenuous.
  • by holt (86624) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @08:44PM (#19499697) Homepage
    How is it that they think they can judge intent? Even if they're only going to look at major Hollywood productions, how do they know that a given transmission is pirated, and not the exact same transmission, but with license agreements in place to allow the distribution? What's the difference between a download from iTunes Store and a download from another host online? Are they going to maintain a whitelist of "legitimate" sites that can distribute copyrighted material?

    Nevermind the fact that if they're going to start protecting the interests of the major studios, why aren't they going to "protect" the interests of the rest of us? How do they know the difference between me uploading my photography to my website and someone else sending copies around that infringe on my copyrights?

    The entire concept is ridiculous. There is technically no difference between a legal and an illegal transfer. It's all in the offline licenses and agreements that have (or have not) been made.
  • by Garry Anderson (194949) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @08:51PM (#19499763) Homepage
    I am British - but what right does AT&T have to invade an Americans privacy?

    Isn't privacy protected in the Bill of Rights - or has that all gone out the window now, since 911?

    I thought that even the police have to get a judge to authorize a warrant to search - and only if there is reasonable grounds against an individual (not the populace of whole country).

    Why is this not like the US Postal Service looking in your mail or DHL opening your packages to see if you have anything illegal - without a search warrant?

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