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AT&T claims anti-piracy technology could improve network speeds for users

Piracy is a big issue for movie studios and music companies -- copyright infringement suits seem to be filed daily against one company or another. Some companies are trying to cut down on piracy, which is rampant due to the ease with which films and music can be copied and sent on the Internet.

In February of this year, Google was accused of helping pirates distribute stolen intellectual works by film studios. Shortly after the accusations against Google started to fly, Viacom filed a whopping $1 billion USD lawsuit against Google for distributing unauthorized movie and video clips via Google’s YouTube video service.

Google responded to the Viacom suit by saying it was protected by the Digital Millennium Copy Right Act. Google denied any wrongdoing and claimed in May of 2007 that the Viacom suit threatened the way of Internet life. Shortly after making that statement, YouTube announced it would be checking for illegal videos using digital fingerprints in an effort to curb piracy via its video service.

AT&T announced recently that it was taking anti-piracy a step further than YouTube by instituting anti-piracy measures at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) level. BusinessWeek is reporting that AT&T is considering using technology from a small company called Vobile to prevent users of its network from distributing or even viewing copyrighted works illegally.

The system could also force users to watch works from studios in a sanctioned way where the studios could capture revenue from the viewing. BusinessWeek says that AT&T is trying to create a type of “no piracy zone” where big content creators could digitally release works without having to fear revenue loss from piracy.

AT&T’s plan has raised the ire of privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Lee Tien, a staff attorney with the EFF says, “They better be very careful. This is serious, serious stuff, to basically invade the privacy of all of your subscribers.” AT&T has invested money in Vobile technology, but says that doesn’t mean it has selected or endorsed Vobile’s technology.

AT&T claims that the move isn’t meant to invade privacy, but rather to cut down on network traffic. AT&T CEO Randall Stevenson told BusinessWeek, “We're doing a lot of work in this area. If you look at what's driving massive amounts of traffic on our network, a lot of it is illegal content." AT&T maintains that reducing piracy will reduce the load on its network and possibly increase network speeds for all users.

Vobile uses what’s described as video DNA, which are strings of bits extracted from clips of movies and shows by Vobile's technology. These video DNA strings would then be compared to content being sent across the network by users and look for matches. When matches are found, the content would be blocked.

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By KaiserSotze on 11/20/2007 10:37:17 AM , Rating: 5
We are NOT China. This is the USA. Why are we even talking about content filtering the internet.

First they filter "supposed" illegal content. Who says its illegal? What happened to the burden of proof? What happened to net neutrality? What happend to basic freedom of speech? etc.

This system is just another step in the path of censorship and revoking basic rights. Call it content protection, call it DRM. I call it B******t.

RE: Blarg
By mdogs444 on 11/20/07, Rating: -1
RE: Blarg
By KaiserSotze on 11/20/2007 10:54:26 AM , Rating: 5
Yea but quoting a book and making a statement about it could be concieved as an infringement by this filtering software and thus prevent you from viewing it...which becomes a blocking of you making your opinion about something. Hense the freedom of speech link.

RE: Blarg
By OrSin on 11/20/2007 11:06:25 AM , Rating: 2
ATT need to be very carefully even trying to block content. The minute they do block anything they become responsible for all contect. They will be many people list for allow content to pass. Best to just stay out of it.

RE: Blarg
By joust on 11/26/2007 12:23:26 AM , Rating: 2
Once this technology is in place, what's to stop AT&T from blocking content that's damaging to AT&T? What's to stop companies from paying AT&T to block negative publicity? What's to stop AT&T from extorting companies for cash in order to be seen? What's to stop the government from asking AT&T to filter certain content? Or block opposition messages?

I think all these concerns regarding copyright are misguided. This isn't about copyright. This is about control.

They want to be the gatekeepers of our eyes and ears. Control lots of information, you become wildly powerful and wealthy. Control enough information, you control the world.

RE: Blarg
By mdogs444 on 11/20/07, Rating: -1
RE: Blarg
By KaiserSotze on 11/20/2007 1:08:17 PM , Rating: 3
Take a movie review then. YOu show some of the movie with your audio reviewing it. Or reverse. These finger print algorithms could view it as an infringment also.

As for companies being allowed to censor what we say etc... I seem to recall a couple of companies called Yahoo and Cisco getting into some heat about their foreign dealings with reguards to this area. The debate is that they are based on US Soil so they should follow US rules.

The whole thing was that this is the process of leading to those restrictions. You start with one control it then leads to another, and another and another. The very essence is at risk.

Besides... with the current system; I post a clip of a movie. I then talk about it. I give credit to the owner. I would still get a DMCA Voilation Notice. The way these guys want it, you can't refer to anything without giving them some $$$.

The system is very broken.

RE: Blarg
By just4U on 11/28/2007 5:17:14 AM , Rating: 2
The system is very broken.

That is the best way to describe all of it in regards to this topic. Until regulations come into play that protect everyone (that includes all of us to and not just some big company) it's going to stay broken.

I think, concessions are going to have to be made by the companies pushing for all this. They want their cake and they want to eat it to but ... in order to fully get their way they have to step on some of our net liberties and ease of use that many are getting very accustomed to... and not likely willing to give it up very easily either. So were a ways from seeing something reasonable come into play.

Its a new game, time to make up new rules that make sense for all and don't just serve one side. But for now we just keep reading more of these stupid plans.

RE: Blarg
By Spuke on 11/20/07, Rating: 0
RE: Blarg
By Christopher1 on 11/20/2007 5:48:46 PM , Rating: 2
Only if it is the WHOLE book.... if it just a part of the book in question that you are posting, as a sample of the book in question to get a person to read it..... not infringement in the least.

RE: Blarg
By Screwballl on 11/20/2007 10:49:13 AM , Rating: 3
this is where they can block all torrent traffic because it is used by illegal file sharing... and they can block napster traffic because it is too similar to the illegal napster traffic... and they can block stuff like Vuze and Joost because it also carries "file-sharing-like" traffic.
All in the name of saving bandwidth for their "legal" users.

No thanks as soon as I find out my ISP starts this crap I am off to another company.

RE: Blarg
By murphyslabrat on 11/20/2007 2:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
Also, games like Gunz that attempt to lever the torrent system for increased efficiency get majorly screwed.

RE: Blarg
By qwertyz on 11/20/2007 11:05:52 AM , Rating: 3
If they try to fuck u JUST FUCK THEM BACK

RE: Blarg
By FITCamaro on 11/20/2007 2:18:19 PM , Rating: 4
What guarantee do we have that their lawyers are women? I don't play on both sides of the fence....

And no fat chicks.

RE: Blarg
By 05SilverGT on 11/20/2007 3:49:49 PM , Rating: 2
Calm down Denny Crane!

RE: Blarg
By FITCamaro on 11/21/2007 6:21:23 AM , Rating: 2
Nice! I didn't even think of that angle. I love Boston Legal.

RE: Blarg
By Spivonious on 11/20/2007 11:12:32 AM , Rating: 4
Freedom of speech does not apply to services offered by a private (non tax-supported) company. AT&T can do whatever they want to. They can block all traffic except that going to The beauty of a free market is that if they ever did something like this they would die a quick death.

When the government starts censoring things, then you have a true freedom of speech violation.

RE: Blarg
By kextyn on 11/20/2007 12:04:28 PM , Rating: 5
This doesn't have anything to do with free speech really. And ATT can block access to whatever they want, but it's not as easy as you may think.

"ISPs in many countries, including the United States, enjoy a legal status often known as “Common Carrier.” Simply put, this absolves the ISP of responsibility if it assists in the transfer of illegal materials, such as copyrighted works or child pornography. The philosophy is that as long as the ISP simply moves data from one place to another — not making any judgment or discrimination about whether to move one type of data or another — the ISP should enjoy a “safe harbor.”"

By blocking what they consider to be illegal content if there is still anything illegal going over the pipes they can be held accountable for it.

RE: Blarg
By Spuke on 11/20/2007 5:00:33 PM , Rating: 4
By blocking what they consider to be illegal content if there is still anything illegal going over the pipes they can be held accountable for it.
This is what gets them in trouble. Thanks. I was trying to think of this.

RE: Blarg
By Christopher1 on 11/20/07, Rating: 0
RE: Blarg
By jdjbuffalo on 11/20/2007 6:41:16 PM , Rating: 2
While I would like to agree with your line of thinking it just doesn't match up with reality.

There are several reasons why this is almost if not just as bad as the government doing the filtering:
1. AT&T (and other telcos) do get money from the local, state and federal government. They've been paid over $200 Billion dollars since the 90's to run fiber to the home.
2. A computer cannot judge what's fair use or other legit means of posting copyrighted material and what's not. This means you are at the will of a computer program to determine your natural rights (I've got a problem with that and you should too).
3. Telcos (and Cable) are local monopolies in most areas. Some people have the following choice: 1 Broadband ISP (telco or cable), 2 cable and telco monopolies, or dial-up. There are very few options in 99% of the cities in the US.

If we lived in a "capitalist utopia" then your ideas would hold weight as we could choose the right service based on what ISPs were willing to give us and being informed on what options we have. This is NOT reality. WAKE UP!

RE: Blarg
By Spivonious on 11/21/2007 9:12:22 AM , Rating: 2
#1 - We elected the officials who decided to give telcos money for building a fiber optic network. The money cannot legally be used for anything else.

#2 - I imagine that a sophisticated AI could determine what's legal and what's not, but it doesn't matter because AT&T can do whatever they want. Read my post again.

#3 - Yes there exists a lack of local competition , but if AT&T screws up then I'm sure the other companies would love to come in and fill the void. Again, a free market system at work.

Take off the tinfoil hat!

RE: Blarg
By jdjbuffalo on 11/21/2007 4:33:31 PM , Rating: 2
No tinfoil hat here (anyways they amplify the signals, so it's not such a good idea) :P

#1 - We do elect the officials but more than half the population can't even be bothered to vote for 30 minutes every 2 - 4 years. They also would rather spend time watching the latest celebrity debacle than do something that directly affects their lives life political decision (bread and circuses).

#2 - Yes AT&T can do whatever they want and hopefully they will be punished for it. (Big IF considering the telco immunity being pushed through Congress)

#3 - Yes other companies can fill the void, in theory, but consider that you have to be a big company to even get rights to string up wires in each of the towns. There are certainly local initiatives like Utopia in Utah that put a local fiber ring and allows almost any company to come in an offer services over the fiber. I hope to see more of this as I do see it as a ideal solution to the problems plaguing internet access throughout the country.

I was naive like you once, but we don't live in a true capitalist society. No country really could as it would be a free for all with the government letting business do whatever they wanted. We are more accurately called a Mixed Economy

RE: Blarg
By chick0n on 11/20/07, Rating: -1
ISPs' dirty little secret
By alifbaa on 11/20/2007 10:40:49 AM , Rating: 2
The dirty little secret of ISPs is that they owe their existence to file sharing. Your local ISP's advertising is not based on web surfing -- it is based on large file movement time, which is a euphamism for file sharing.

A home user who only surfs the web and checks email will be very happy with a 256k dsl connection. Real speed provided to residential users is useful for only one thing -- file sharing.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By TomZ on 11/20/2007 10:51:57 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree - I download large files off the Internet quite often, and I don't do any file sharing. Heck, just browsing the Internet you get a better experience with a high-speed connection.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By johnbuk on 11/20/2007 11:01:10 AM , Rating: 1
You download large files off the internet but don't do any file sharing? That's a contradiction in terms isn't it?

I agree with the statement that file sharing has been a large part of what pushed people to higher speed ISPs. I sure as hell wouldn't be paying what I am for my cable internet connection if it weren't for the ability to download large files at a decent rate.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By tdawg on 11/20/2007 11:08:22 AM , Rating: 1
Game demos and patches, software demos and updates, youtube videos, etc. There are many ways to utilize faster download speeds without downloading copyrighted material. Large downloads aren't limited to illegal movie, music and software file sharing.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By johnbuk on 11/20/2007 12:07:44 PM , Rating: 3
Never meant to imply that all fire sharing was illegal. In fact, the only time I use torrents (for example) is to download various versions of linux (always seem to be new distros out to test), a couple of different web shows that are distributed legally, and the occasional older game update (I tend to buy games that are several years old when the price has come down) that I have trouble finding anyplace else. If my ISP were to block all torrent traffic because most torrents are used for illegal purposes, then I would be blocked from these perfectly legal uses.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By tdawg on 11/20/2007 4:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
Good point, John. When I first read your post and saw the phrase, "file sharing", my mind immediately jumped to illegal downloads. :( What has the world come to?

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By mindless1 on 11/20/2007 9:14:42 PM , Rating: 2
Umm, game demos and patches, software demos, etc, etc, are indeed copyrighted material! The only difference is the copyright holder ALLOWS distribution to you, from them, but not from you, to anyone else (in most cases).

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By TomZ on 11/20/2007 12:15:54 PM , Rating: 2
You download large files off the internet but don't do any file sharing? That's a contradiction in terms isn't it?

For example, I download DVD images from Microsoft as a part of my MSDN subscription. Microsoft is sharing files amongst its users; however, I am not sharing the files I download with anyone.

And by the way, let's please steer clear of these arguments over semantics since they add very little to the discussion.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By mindless1 on 11/20/2007 9:17:23 PM , Rating: 2
The example is not so clear-cut. MS does not allow you to redistribute these DVDs do they? Blocks would have to be rather elaborate in some cases, including source and destination IP #s so for your example the data flows to you from MS, but not from you to anywhere else (like your Office, 2nd home, etc).

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By Vanilla Thunder on 11/20/2007 11:28:52 AM , Rating: 1
Real speed provided to residential users is useful for only one thing -- file sharing.

Have you ever heard of gamers? Speed is critical, espescially in Multiplayer FPS games, where those few milliseconds of lag just got you shot in the head.


RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By Treckin on 11/20/2007 11:48:39 AM , Rating: 3
Lag is not a result of low bandwidth per se, rather its packet loss due to a crappy backbone, or shitty upload speed (ie cable!).

The vast majority of games use less than a 120 KBs, which translates roughly to a 3 mbs connection. Those of us with a 10 mbs connection (ie ME) are considering moving back down to a slower connection becasue the torrent limiting is nullifying the greater ammount of bandwidth we are paying for.

Essentially, legally, there are very few uses for that kind of bandwidth, and that is do to a failure on the part of the entertainment industry to adapt to new technology. The RIAA and MPAA are stuck in arcane methods of entertainment distribution, and so those of us that HATE going to blockbuster, or waiting for Netflix, are almost FORCED to resort to DLing ilegally!

If the recording induistries would simply adapt to the market conditions, and stop fighting both their own customers and evolutionary change, we would all be better off. If they could just get their shit together, and realize that if they capitolized on the fact that most of america has a big-screen TV and a broadband internet connection, they could actually increase profits by offering an in-home stream/dl service...

Instead, they are fixated on 50 year-old distribution methods, while those of us who love entertainment are forced into illegality.

I say the judiciary should force these money-grubbing corperated exploitists into innovation, and put an end to their abuse of their own customers.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By bhieb on 11/20/2007 12:12:59 PM , Rating: 2
Wow I was with you for a while there. Yes most users don't need the bandwidth. In fact that is what the ISP's are complaining about they offer the service expecting only short burst of full utilization (no contract guarantees 100% usage without paying for a dedicated line).

Also yes the entertainment industry needs to get their act together, but it is their act.

You lost me at
are almost FORCED to resort to DLing ilegally!

Sure their methods suck, but just because you don't like the business model does not mean "hey it is ok to steal it". I don't like waiting in check out lines, does that mean I can just walk out with their crap since they don't have RFID auto-checkout yet?

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By HammerZ on 11/20/2007 4:02:49 PM , Rating: 2
The vast majority of games use less than a 120 KBs, which translates roughly to a 3 mbs connection.

120KBps does not translate to ~3mbps? 120KBps is around 1mbps (960kbps to be exact).

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By SavagePotato on 11/20/2007 4:37:00 PM , Rating: 3
I work for an ISP, last time I looked in the dirty little secrets room we have hidden in the back I didn't see anything in there about file sharing being our bread and butter.

The way it works is we pay for bandwidth, the amount of data we push through in a month we pay for, this is what costs us money, not speed.

If a user was pulling through a terabyte a month on say a $50 a month package, he would be nothing more than a money pit. This is why there are limits, caps, this is why Comcast throttles or cancels you when you download 150 gigs in 2 weeks.

The customer that surfs the web and checks email on a $30 a month package and never even breaks a gig of download is one that the company makes a profit on. The more you download the less the company makes off your account.

The reason customers need say a 25 meg connection instead of a 1.5 meg connection is simple, it's not because they need to download the entire history of mash in divx. It's because they have to wait seconds rather than minutes when patching their game etc etc etc.

The person soaking up 200 gigs a month is not revered by any means whatsoever by the ISP trust me on that.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By SavagePotato on 11/20/2007 5:19:18 PM , Rating: 2
Actually that description on bandwidth cost is a little poor, basically what it means is what the pipe sustains for the month that it peaks out at is what the company pays for.

So when Joe user has his connection pinned all the time pulling 500 gigs a month through, he is adding a lot to the pie, slowing down his leg of the network, and generally costing more than he is paying.

I don't profess to know what the situation is at larger companies, or how any of their costs break down. But coming from the perspective of a small isp, high bandwidth users are not coveted.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By mindless1 on 11/20/2007 9:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
But of course, and a restaurant that offers an all you can eat buffet will also highly prefer customers that just have soup and crackers only, but that's not quite reasonable to charge as much as $30 a month for those that only browse HTML 'sites and do email.

If an ISP can't support a few dozen GB/month/subscriber, it's time they thought about not taking on new subscribers until their capacity is increased. Yes it'll cost money but cable ISPs will be in big trouble before long if they don't recognize that the bandwidth has to be there. Otherwise it is fairly inevitable that other broadband alternatives will be available eventually.

For example many cities are considering wifi and while many of those deals have fell through it is only on terms, not desire. The internet wants to reach everyone and vice-versa, and so the price war will be worse than ever and either the price drops or the bandwidth is kept quite high to compensate.

Certainly those who download a TB a month have a problem and need a higher priced account to offset that cost, even 1/4th that bandwidth is excessive IMO, but the fair way to do this is not to block a type of activity where everyone is certainly not downloading remotely near a few hundred GB/week. At least, it should not be done until proven not to cause problems and not done just to preserve bandwidth but very sparingly to provide per-incident content control, not a massive filter that impedes everything possible.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By SavagePotato on 11/21/2007 10:35:16 AM , Rating: 2
What is reasonable depends on the market. Around here most of our customers are rural(wireless isp). These customers have about three, well maybe four options in the area.

Option one, is dial up, which still is usually over 20 bucks a month in this area. Satellite internet in Canada is very pricey, in the neighborhood of $200 a month for a 2mb connection. That was option two. Option three is cellphone, again ridiculous cost, 300ish for the card, minimum $100 a month for maximum 700kb in evdo areas.

Of course the last option, wireless. There are actualy a ton of small wireless providers springing up all over some with prices as poor as satellite others like the one I work for, about $40 a month for 1.5 meg dsl speed connections in remote areas. $30 in larger centers. Would I want to pay that much? probably not if there was something cheaper, but in this area, there really isn't. I myself have dsl, and the cost is exactly the same as wireless. That's just about as low as it gets here, thats the market.

As to supporting their subscribers that's not that big a hurdle. You can always buy a bigger pipe, and the cost isn't that crazy. Where I work we actually have ridiculously more room on our pipe than we have customers, so thats no issue at all.

The city wi-fi push, I really don't believe there is any equivalent here in Canada. Theres another aricle up right here on dailytech about earthlink thinking on bailing from the city wi-fi push. I get a chuckle at that because I can only imagine what a nightmare it must be trying to get wireless to work reliably in cities. It's bad enough in wide open rural areas having to deal with interference from other providers obstacles etc. A city would just be a nightmare, and it's looking like thats just the way it's turning out. Gross underestimation of the difficulty involved by the respective parties.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By 0ldman on 11/25/2007 2:44:17 PM , Rating: 2
You also have to keep in mind that bandwidth isn't free. Out here in the sticks, it takes 30 subscribers to pay for bandwidth, pay off the bank note for the initial investment and make enough profit to be able to afford to run the business, much less hire anyone to help.

If two people decide to hammer on p2p, they will bring the T1 to its knees. I cannot afford to build out for everyone to use p2p 24/7. Given that option, there would be no profit, no profit means no WISP, no WISP means this area has no true broadband, so they work with me and cut down their p2p speeds, I cut them back myself, or I cut them off.

If someone wants to sign a two year contract, pay for higher usage, I'll gladly add to my backbone (I've got to sign a contract for that as well). The problem is most people want to pay nothing and get everything.

As for the $30 for web and email, they pay $20 now for piss poor dial up.

RE: ISPs' dirty little secret
By amanojaku on 11/20/2007 10:09:12 PM , Rating: 2
WTF are you smoking, and can I have some? People use the Internet for a vast number of reasons, legitimate and otherwise. File sharing is relatively new compared to uses such as software patching, video downloading, etc...

Remember when Star Wars Episode I came out? Everyone downloaded those trailers and they were HUGE for their time. Remember when we didn't have RedHat's up2date (replaced by YUM) and Microsoft's patching system? Businesses large and small (and home users!) sent huge requests to the 'net to get updates, not to mention the bleeding edge kids at home and at school running their flavors of Linux.

What about video games? It seems like there isn't a game today that doesn't require a 200MB patch. And the Wii, XBOX, and PS3 support some type of downloadable media. And NetFlix, etc... for video. And porn, because some people actually pay for it. HD isn't making files any smaller!

Oh, and I just happen to work for a really large software vendor. Out of my home since the office is 3000 miles away. Guess what I do? Download software to take to clients, and lots of it. And there are 400 other guys and gals like me for this company alone.

ISP's have a decent method of restricting downloads. It's called s***** upload speed. Want to file share? Pay through the nose! But download all you want! What most ISP won't tell you is that they just don't have the infrastructure to support high bandwidth in either direction. They assumed that no one would really use the 'net aside from businesses. Once they realized they were wrong it was too late. Routers cost money. OC-192's (9.9Gbit/sec) cost money. That peering connection with the "competitor" costs money. But users are cheap, or poor, or both. And the competition is too large, with less profits to go around. So ISP charge content providers a lot. ISPs try to restrict your uploads to protect them from the law. But the guy footing the bill is even scarier than the FBI. He can actually walk into your office while the law has to get permission.

What are you going to say next? Everyone with an SUV is carting drugs and dead bodies? Some people just like a big honkin' gas guzzler, just like I like (and need) my fast internet pipe. Put down YOUR pipe already.

/end rant

By Chris Peredun on 11/20/2007 10:19:42 AM , Rating: 5
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By Etsp on 11/20/2007 10:48:23 AM , Rating: 2
I count 8 words, a version line, and a block of text...

By tanishalfelven on 11/20/2007 12:59:36 PM , Rating: 2
good idea.
until ISPs start blocking all encrypted content as illegal.

By Chris Peredun on 11/20/2007 1:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
good idea.
until ISPs start blocking all encrypted content as illegal.

Use of steganographic encryption ( ) will render that point moot as well. They'll not only have to prove the content is infringing, they'll have to prove that an encrypted message exists at all.

By HighWing on 11/20/2007 1:43:24 PM , Rating: 3
LOL that is exactly along the lines I was thinking

I would just love to see them spend all this money on trying to look at the "Video DNA" of a video file and as soon as they start actively putting this into effect, all video torrents will suddenly become encrypted overnight, thereby effectively overriding their filter system. And then the next days front page headlines.. "AT&T's Billon Dollar Anti-Piracy System Foiled by Decades Old PGP Software!!"

Anyone remember the black Sharpe covered CD that undid a Billon dollar CD DRM?

Yet another reason American Internet SUCKS!
By borismkv on 11/20/2007 12:21:50 PM , Rating: 3
Basically, the big telcos are trying to pimp out an old Ford Pinto. The US's Internet infrastructure is so outdated and obsolete that it just can't compete with modern technology. Here we see AT&T investing in technology that would allow them to get more out of the old crap technology. And not really a whole LOT more out of it. The Internet is changing. Web pages are getting more bandwidth intensive and people are turning to the Internet to get their entertainment, sometimes legally, sometimes illegally downloading old movies, TV shows, etc. because it's more convenient/cheaper than going to the store and buying or renting a DVD. Why are these companies spending so much money to tweak a crappy twine and duct-tape infrastructure that is more likely to fail entirely than actually keep working for another decade? I keep feeling like I'm helping pay for someone else's $10,000 prostitute.

RE: Yet another reason American Internet SUCKS!
By xsilver on 11/20/2007 12:46:14 PM , Rating: 2
Countries with better internet than the USA:

1) South korea
2) ?? There cant be that many more?

By tanishalfelven on 11/20/2007 1:01:37 PM , Rating: 2
most of europe has better internet than US, japan etc etc.

By borismkv on 11/20/2007 1:45:47 PM , Rating: 3
According to this report...
the US's Average download speed of 1.9mbps is less than a third of the average for a Canadian user, who averages 7mbps. And that's just one country. Japan's average is 61mbps. Most of Europe is faster than us as well. It's quite frankly pathetic.

RE: Yet another reason American Internet SUCKS!
By mdogs444 on 11/20/07, Rating: 0
By Christopher1 on 11/20/2007 5:56:34 PM , Rating: 1
Wrong. Less government /= more competition, and more competion /= to better internet access solutions and companies.

We tried the 'less government' thing for many years now in regards to the internet. Put bluntly: IT DID NOT WORK!

It's time to put government regulations into place, realize that there is very little, if any, real competition in the world today with the mega-conglomerates, and start breaking up those mega-companies if we truly want competition to solve the ills in question.

By RandallMoore on 11/20/2007 11:01:22 AM , Rating: 2
I am deeply regretting signing up with Cingular only for AT&T to take over. Ever since then everything has gone from gold to absolute crap. I'm sick of it, and soon I will be demanding a withdraw from my contract. I hope the entire company folds in on itself. I will go without service before I ever give this company money again.

By TomZ on 11/20/2007 12:19:41 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you there - that company sucks. I've been able to avoid them for Internet and cell phone, however, we're stuck with them for local phone service. There was some efforts to open up local service here in Michigan, but AT&T successfully lobbied against it and got it killed AFAIK. Nothing like a government-mandated monopoly to eliminate customer choice and drive up profits for these companies.

By FITCamaro on 11/20/2007 2:15:43 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing like a government-mandated monopoly to eliminate customer choice and drive up profits for these companies.

Wait I thought it was supposed to help competition? Would the Telecoms really lie to us?

By TomZ on 11/20/2007 4:14:52 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, just got off the phone with AT&T, they are offering DSL that is twice the speed and half the cost of what I'm paying now. I may have to eat my words...

route from a comcast user to
By gnubian on 11/20/2007 3:23:10 PM , Rating: 2
'm a comcast customer .. here's a portion of a traceroute to

traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
1 ( 0.278 ms 0.286 ms 0.307 ms
2 * * *
3 ( 14.557 ms * *
4 ( 14.553 ms * *
5 ( 20.961 ms 20.967 ms 21.401 ms
6 ( 58.440 ms 73.546 ms 54.286 ms
7 ( 54.314 ms 55.077 ms 55.113 ms
8 ( 55.893 ms 65.628 ms 65.654 ms
9 ( 64.336 ms 64.403 ms 64.432 ms
10 ( 64.551 ms 64.579 ms 64.606 ms
11 ( 64.113 ms 64.163 ms 64.242 ms
12 ( 54.926 ms 54.983 ms 57.478 ms
13 ( 56.375 ms 56.395 ms 56.407 ms

You will now note that hops 6 - 13 are routed through at&t .. see the problem and why they need to NOT be trying to filter? Unless everything is routed around at&t, there's a good chance that ALL providers are going to get filtered.

RE: route from a comcast user to
By TomZ on 11/20/2007 4:17:09 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think there's any discussion AFAIK about AT&T filtering at their backbone level. The filtering being discussed is at the ISP level. I wouldn't even think AT&T has a right to inspect and modify packets on the backbone.

By Spuke on 11/20/2007 5:27:51 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't even think AT&T has a right to inspect and modify packets on the backbone.
What's the difference? Filtering is filtering no matter where it's physically located.

By Ray 69 on 11/20/2007 9:09:42 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not a customer of Comcast but found this interesting for my connection...

Tracing route to []
over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 2596 ms <1 ms 1 ms
2 2 ms 1 ms 1 ms dslrouter []
1 2596 ms <1 ms 1 ms
2 2 ms 1 ms 1 ms dslrouter []
3 19 ms 20 ms 18 ms
4 19 ms 20 ms 19 ms]
5 20 ms 20 ms 22 ms []
6 19 ms 21 ms 25 ms []
7 24 ms 24 ms 23 ms []
8 24 ms 24 ms 25 ms []
9 27 ms 23 ms 24 ms []
10 24 ms 23 ms 24 ms []
11 28 ms 26 ms 26 ms []
12 27 ms 26 ms 26 ms []
13 33 ms 28 ms 29 ms []
14 107 ms 106 ms 105 ms []
15 104 ms 105 ms 105 ms []
16 114 ms 114 ms 115 ms []
17 114 ms 115 ms 116 ms []
18 132 ms 129 ms 239 ms
19 133 ms 135 ms 135 ms []

Trace complete.

The biggest torrent site and no ATT network in sight (not that I illegally download anything)!! However when I did the tracetr to I did get quite a number of **.** results as well.

Yet another...
By PurdueRy on 11/20/2007 10:18:13 AM , Rating: 3
This will only serve as a minor road bump in the way of people distributing illegal music and movies. Piracy will always find a way to circumvent the system. All these measures end up doing is causing problems to users that are using the system legally.

A perfect example of this is the people that bought HDTV's with component and DVI inputs only. While these connections were perfectly capable of handling HD resolutions, anti-piracy measures led to the institution of the HDMI connection. Now people with these TVs may not be able to watch HD movies(if the BRD and HDDVDs start to institute the downconvert to 540p when using component as was originally intended). They already can't use most player's upconverters. And, as we all know, these piracy measures have REALLY stopped pirates from ripping movies in HD....

RE: Yet another...
By Janooo on 11/20/2007 12:37:29 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong, HDCP can be paired with DVI. You don't have to have HDMI in order to enjoy HDTV.

RE: Yet another...
By PurdueRy on 11/20/2007 1:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
Alright...but the point still stands for component only HDTVs...which there were quite a few of.

Another example would be in the gaming world where copy protection schemes such as starforce and such go too far and sometimes result in legitimate users having trouble playing their purchased game. All while cracks almost always appear within a months time.

AT&T: This is why you don't get my business.
By Emryse on 11/20/2007 10:20:40 AM , Rating: 2
I really don't care that you want to make more money, and are hoping to reduce the costs you spend expanding or improving your networks to back your weak claims of superiority when it comes to bandwidth speed and service.

I really don't care what your customers, who pay fees to use your ISP, do with their bandwidth - or what content they transfer.

I really do care that you think it's ok to tell your customers what is and isn't their business to download or upload.

Learn your place, AT&T; you are a service provider - not the service Nanny. But I'm sure you'll figure that out when a lot of your kids go over to Mr. Cox's (or some other decent ISP's) house to play.

RE: AT&T: This is why you don't get my business.
By Golgatha on 11/20/2007 10:31:21 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder how you match encrypted DNA back to its source? If they manage to pull that one off, my next question is, "Mediacom, would you like me back as a customer?".

I don't pirate, but I really don't want my traffic snooped on either.

By Samus on 11/20/2007 10:46:56 AM , Rating: 2
They wont do this. Plain and simple.

Bad idea currently, but good in principle
By sceptus on 11/20/2007 11:52:24 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, of course, this is a stupid idea. There's no good way, at least with the current status of things, for AT&T to determine what is illegal. What will happen is that people who aren't guilty of illegal file-sharing will be wrongfully blocked.

However, I think this idea is good in principle. Suppose AT&T did have a way to instantly recognize what internet traffic was illegal and what was not, with 100% certainty. Then I would certainly support this. There is nothing wrong, at least in principle, with preventing people from breaking the law.

RE: Bad idea currently, but good in principle
By AlphaVirus on 11/20/2007 12:04:37 PM , Rating: 2
Even if they could monitor 100% what is illegal to stop it, why do they feel it is there place to do this. They are beating around the bush and trying to avoid the truth of how suck there infrastructure is. They are playing the PR game "Oh we support anti-piracy, we are doing everything we can to support the megacompanies"

A-TnT is full of crap in the things they do, no matter what they are bending everyone over and giving them the shaft. I am unfortunate that they are in contract with my apartment complex to where I cant get any other ISP which is bull.

ATT needs to stop being nosey, get of their customers business, and provide better service like they claim. 6mbit connection my arse.

By Grast on 11/20/2007 12:19:39 PM , Rating: 2

You are correct partly. This is not an issue of their infrustructor. AT&T already understands their infrustructor is over 50 years old. This is an issue of mitigating law suits from copywright holders. If AT&T can show due diligence in trying to prevent illegal activity from the network, AT&T is able to better defend themselves in this extremely sue happy environment.

If AT&T does implement this solution, it will half hearted and only for show.


Just another take on this situation...
By Aaron M on 11/20/2007 12:57:25 PM , Rating: 2
From what I've read(unofficial articles), here's my take on this:

To use an antivirus program analogy: AT&T would be using unique definitions for each media file they mark as illegal to share. This would eliminate false positives, as they would/should not use heuristic means of determining what's illegal content or not.

If that is the case, then although AT&T won't catch all illegal files, they will still catch plenty to make a difference in network traffic, without affecting those using their ISP connection in compliance with the TOS. I mention TOS, because I see several posters arguing that the ISP should provide an unmanaged/unmonitored pipe, even though those posters agreed to the TOS, which explictly states that the connection is not for unlawful purposes.

As for the privacy concerns, posters on a tech site should know that all the large ISPs already have the capability of seeing everything you use your connection for. It's just not actively monitored. In this case, no one should be monitoring your traffic, either. It's just that flagged media files will be caught and simply not transmit.

While I'm not an advocate of the proposed practice, as written in several Internet articles, it is much better than traffic throttling or receiving legal letters on behalf of the **AA.

Unlike protocol(Bittorrent) throttling, this has the potential to actually reduce the amount of pirated content transmitted over the Internet, while having virtually no affect on legal traffic. Of course, that's a BIG "if it works as stated".

RE: Just another take on this situation...
By Spuke on 11/20/2007 5:36:44 PM , Rating: 2
That's the thing. It NEVER works 100%. That is an impossibility. And that's what people are complaining about here. How can you tell the difference between and illegal string of bits and a legal one without impeding the legal one's? I'll give you the answer, you can't ! Will it reduce traffic? Sure it will! Will it piss off a chunk of customers? Sure it will! Will those customers sue? Oh yes they will! Will lost customers and lawsuits from customers equal the damage from RIAA/MPAA lawsuits? We shall see and that may be the real reason for AT&T's censorship plan (calling a spade a spade here).

By Aaron M on 11/20/2007 11:24:09 PM , Rating: 2

What you say can't be disputed, since we all have yet to see AT&T implement this plan. However, not all posters, here, have the same complaint you stated. Some posters seem to think AT&T's plan would block entire protocols, like Bittorent. Those are the false complaints I was addressing.

Also, neither of us can say what AT&T's technical goal is, so you can't say it's impossible for them to achieve it. What if their goal was to largely reduce the transmission of pirated content on their network, with only slightly increased latency as a side effect? That's not impossible. Sure, no one wants increased latency, but it wouldn't mean AT&T didn't meet their goal.

Also, here's speculation I forgot to mention in my original post:

Considering the timing of this news, aside from reducing bandwidth consumption, I would think it also has partly to do with gaining the favor of content providers, whose support AT&T needs for its fledgling U-verse service.

By Sunbird on 11/20/2007 10:46:46 AM , Rating: 3
Who will be tracking my sneakernet usage? :P

Not surprised at all
By dickeywang on 11/21/2007 5:50:51 AM , Rating: 3
AT&T is the one who helps NSA to monitoring average our everyday phone calls and emails. What kind of "privacy protection" can you expect to get from them?

That settles that
By FITCamaro on 11/20/2007 10:31:43 AM , Rating: 2
I'll never use AT&T for anything again.

Time to encrypt!
By iFX on 11/20/2007 2:10:16 PM , Rating: 2
It's time to encrypt all your data transfers whether it be an mp3, a movie, an email, a word doc, whatever. Keep the data encrypted. "They" can't block what they don't can't see.

By Kishkumen on 11/20/2007 2:35:17 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a pipe dream from a penny pincher dreaming about all the money he could save if nobody actually used any bandwidth. Wouldn't that be nice? Think of all the money I could save on gas if I never had to drive my car. And like all anti-piracy measures, it would only serve to punish legitimate users while pirates would find ways to circumvent the restrictions. So they use digital fingerprinting to block an illegal xvid of the Matrix movie. So the pirates change the fingerprint. They run it though a bit shifting algorithm, compress it into a half dozon new files and presto, new fingerprint. Meanwhile Johnny User wants to send his buddy a 30 second clip of a cool fight scene which by all his fair use rights he is entitled to do so and it's nuked at the router. Sounds to me like AT&T is drinking some spicy MPAA Kool-Aid. Of course what difference does it make what I think? We're all just microbes to these people. Microbes who excrete a few measly dollars from time to time.

block everything?
By Oregonian2 on 11/20/2007 3:14:12 PM , Rating: 2
AT&T is considering using technology from a small company called Vobile to prevent users of its network from distributing or even viewing copyrighted works illegally

That means they'll be blocking all email (see the other thread today about such things... everything is automatically copyrighted in the USA, so all email could be copyright violations, especially if it's passing through multiple servers, each one making another copy of it). Yahoo groups will have to be dropped -- massive amounts of people fully quoting other email. All without explicit written authorization of the copyright holders which couldn't itself be emailed through multiple servers.

You say that AT&T being what they are, can't be gotten for their servers making multiple copies? It seems to me that they lose that status once they start peeking into the content they are carrying. They also become responsible and subject to lawsuits for any communications that causes loss (all phishers, email scams, etc) because now that they are looking and dropping SOME content, they become responsible for ALL of it they pass on.

By eman7613 on 11/26/2007 4:25:45 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if they thought about what they are saying, lets list the basic concepts.
1) Most of our traffic is what we would deam "illegal"
2) We are going to block all the traffic that we deem "illegal"
3) This inturn, blocks the majority of people using your service.
4a) People cant get what they want, they cancel their AT&T internet service, and move onto another provider.
5a) You have now lost the majority of your customer.
4b) People cant get what they want, they file many lawsuits against AT&T
5b) AT&T looses money in dealing with all the legal fees, and could loose even more money (and all that spent in investing in the blocking technology) some of the suites win.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but AT&T doesn't have a lot to gain by doing this now do they...

Echelon I is near...
By greylica on 11/27/2007 3:45:44 PM , Rating: 2
I saw this in a game called Deus Ex. But, who is the bob page this time ?
Strange ....

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