AT&T wants to filter the network.

I’m taking a public policy class with Gary Chapman at the LBJ School of Public Policy this summer. Here’s a message I just sent to the class list and EFF-Austin’s discuss list-

The rumor was true- basically, it looks like AT&T wants to implement content filtering on the network end of things. The article has quotes from Fred von Lohmann of EFF and Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge, but one thing the article doesn’t mention is how unlikely it is that any kind of filtering technology can adequately protect copyright exemptions- an incredibly importart part of the law that is supposed to represent public interests. The reason that a technological solution won’t work is that the law is intentionally vague in certain areas, such as fair use (17 USC Section 107) and grants a good amount of leeway in the use of content in others (such as educational institutions, provided certain requirements are fulfilled). The vagueness of fair use exists for a number of reasons, one of which is the recognition that fair uses are going to be very context dependent.,1,402794.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-business&ctrack=2&cset=true

Fun quotes:

“As AT&T has begun selling pay-television services, the company has realized that its interests are more closely aligned with Hollywood, Cicconi said in an interview Tuesday.”

“Cicconi said that once a technology was chosen, the company would look at privacy and other legal issues.”


  1. derivative work » Blog Archive » crossing my screen today said,

    June 16, 2007 @ 10:31 am

    […] for people based on their government. How about we combine flickr’s image censorship with AT&T’s proposed network filtering with google’s youtube video filtering? i see lots of blank spots in the brave new web 2.0 […]

  2. copy this blog » Free as in digital speech. said,

    June 16, 2007 @ 3:44 pm

    […] wrote recently about AT&T’s commitment to filtering technologies. Via it’s helpdesk, Time Warner has apparently announced that it’s already using packet […]

  3. John said,

    June 18, 2007 @ 12:36 pm

    There’s something very, very wrong when a company starts conspiring against its users. Perhaps the days of the customer being always right have passed? Certainly there will be many AT&T customers who will soon looking for internet access from alternative providers

  4. Akbar said,

    September 16, 2007 @ 4:27 am

    Even tough they really want to implement it, there is always a way for those people to bypass the filter….

  5. Chris said,

    May 6, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

    It is so wrong. There is no more Privacy. Privacy is being violated so much here on the internet. Everything is recored ( logs) and now they want to filter the the content.

    I would move away from AT&T, there are bunch of ISPs want my contract.

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