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AT&T Legal Policy threatens to cancel service for criticizing AT&T and its affiliates

AT&T is one of the largest providers of mobile phone, home phone and internet access in the United States. In many areas, AT&T is the only choice for phone and data services. AT&T has updated its legal policy with new standards, which if enforced, could leave customers without service.

The new legal policy takes away a customer’s right to criticize AT&T without the fear of losing their service. In many rural areas where the only phone provider and Internet service provider is AT&T, this effectively means that any criticism of AT&T could leave them without data service. The section of the AT&T Legal Policy that takes away the customers constitutional right to free speech reads:

5.1 Suspension/Termination… [AT&T] may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes (c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.

Some will say that AT&T has the right to refuse service to anyone. At the same time, others will say that refusing service to someone for simply criticizing AT&T is infringing on the right to free speech. For many Internet access is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Many business professionals work from home and use broadband Internet access to connect to corporate networks. For those that are tied in with AT&T’s service (by choice or because there are no other options available), one should be careful not to step on AT&T’s toes or face disconnection.

Another item of note is that if AT&T decides to disconnect your service for any reason, they can delete any files you have, including emails, without notification. What is not clear from the policy is if criticizing any AT&T service can result in termination of your AT&T data service. If you get an iPhone and complain in comments here at DailyTech because the update breaks your unlocked iPhone, could you lose your AT&T data services?

Updated 10/2/2007
AT&T has issued the following statement with regards to the above policy:

AT&T respects its subscribers' rights to voice their opinions and concerns over any matter they wish. However, we retain the right to disassociate ourselves from websites and messages explicitly advocating violence, or any message that poses a threat to children (e.g. child pornography or exploitation). We do not terminate customer service solely because a customer speaks negatively about AT&T. This policy is not new and it's not unique to AT&T.

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Let's Test That Theory
By TomZ on 10/1/2007 4:44:57 PM , Rating: 5
AT&T sucks.

Testing, testing. Hello, can you still hear me?

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By Quiescent on 10/1/2007 4:52:32 PM , Rating: 4
'Fraid not. AT&T must have been the assholes they are again.

Not our fault they tied ends with Apple, with crappy plans they have to offer. AT&T has probably taken some bruising from iRate iPhone users.

I actually did some timely research before I am to get my cellphone. I find that T-Mobile and Cricket would be the two I would go with. AT&T's plans are too expensive for what little they have to offer. And Alltel is bound to have something up their sleeves with their plans.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By LogicallyGenius on 10/2/2007 10:26:23 AM , Rating: 2
I think there should be a mass movement where all the ATnT customers Yell at A TnT at the same time same day and lets see if they can afford to loose that many customers.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By euclidean on 10/2/2007 12:32:40 PM , Rating: 4
Sprint ftw. T-mobile...great company, but you must not do any traveling to rural areas, or like to go camping/hiking and such if you think they're the best. I'd much rather have a company with crappy customer service that has great coverage all over the place. But that is just me I guess, cause I really don't have any issues that I would have to call the customer service about anyways...

I'll agree with you about Alltel, they're a regional service provider, meaning if you're out of their coverage area, you'll have a hard time getting service or you get charged roaming out the ass, unless of course you pay extra for that no roaming :\

The one thing I haven't seen anyone say about AT&T yet though, is how would they know it's you saying the bad stuff about them? They'd have to be really invading your privacy to figure that one out..

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By dgingeri on 10/2/2007 11:26:29 PM , Rating: 2
Driving from Denver to Chicago, about half the trip is without Sprint service, as is about 2/3 of the state of Nebraska. I know this because I had a Sprint phone and frequently drove from Denver to Chicago and back again, along with having a contract ob in western Nebraska. Sprint's customer service is ok, but not great.

T-moblie has service in western Nebraska, and all along the highways all the way between Denver and Chicago. However, their customer service and warranty coverage of their phones totally sucks. If your phone dies from a hardware malfunction, best to get another one. Otherwise, you end up talking to their support for weeks and get nowhere.

I found ATT to have the best service overall, with decent customer service and coverage. The service plans were a little bit pricier, but with the coverage and customer service advantage, it was worth it.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By audiomaniaca on 10/3/2007 8:44:40 AM , Rating: 1



RE: Let's Test That Theory
By AlphaVirus on 10/3/2007 12:52:09 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure what you mean about the Tmobile and Sprint, when I had Sprint being in the city limits (Houston) it would drop like a hot potatoe. No matter where I was, on the street, in an office building, AT HOME, it would drop calls constantly. I eventually grew tired of this and went with Tmobile and have had 0 dropped calls since March of this year. I have had trips to multipls states and even while raining the phone never dropped at all.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By weskurtz0081 on 10/3/2007 8:28:44 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree with you about T-Mobile. I have been using T-Mobile for about 4 years now and it's been pretty damn good. I get coverage in areas that Cingular (now AT&T) doesn't get coverage. Of course there are some areas where the coverage does drop off, but while driving it only last for a minute or so then I pick a tower up. I have found my coverage to be much more consistent with T-Mobile than the coverage I had with Cingular. And, I am talking about coverage out in the middle of no where as well. All the way out in Fayetteville Texas I still get service.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By Murst on 10/1/2007 4:55:21 PM , Rating: 5
AT&T sucks

I knew we couldn't disagree on everything! :)

Now, as to free speech... I just don't see how this has anything to do with it. If I had a customer, and they were bad-mouthing my business, I certainly wouldn't service them either.

I doubt AT&T could apply this termination policy to a regulated market where they have a monopoly on residential services.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By aikend on 10/1/2007 11:35:45 PM , Rating: 4
Then it's a good thing you don't have a customer!

Me, as an actual business owner, I would sooner just close the business than tell my customers "better not rely on our services. If you ever say anything bad about us, even if it's justified, we'll cancel your account." I mean, what kind of idiot would continue to do business with me under those terms?

We've established that you're not a business owner. But let me ask you this as a consumer: would *you* contract for a service that you need to be reliable if the provider said you can't criticize them? Or would you look for a competitor who will be reliable even if you end up being dissatisfied for one reason or another?

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By Murst on 10/2/2007 1:05:58 AM , Rating: 2
All my employers were either small or medium sized businesses. Although I've never had to experience a client voicing their dissatisfaction, I have seen the owner refuse service to a client (I won't get into details, but the client has previously done damage to a friend of the owner). As a small business, it is extremely important to have a good reputation among your clients, so even though this client was going to bring in money, it was not worth the risk.

As a business owner, I'm sure you'd attempt to resolve any issues your customers have with you. But what if an issue could not be resolved, and the customer went on to criticize your business publicly, while maintaining their contract with you. What if the customer then went on to your other customers, and attempted to convince them to switch to your competitor? Would you still service that customer?

To answer your question: If a business was so bad that I felt the need to criticize it publicly, I certainly wouldn't be using their services when I do criticize them. Such a policy would not affect me at all, and I wouldn't even consider it when evaluating a service.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By Scott66 on 10/3/2007 9:58:43 PM , Rating: 2
What would you do if you had a 2 year contract with that company providing you with crappy service or you had to pay some of your hard earned revenue (wages) to cancel the contract.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By mdogs444 on 10/3/2007 10:41:19 PM , Rating: 2
If you can prove that the services offered were violations of the contract you signed, then you wont have to pay to cancel it.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By encryptkeeper on 10/2/2007 9:04:46 AM , Rating: 2
Me, as an actual business owner, I would sooner just close the business than tell my customers "better not rely on our services. If you ever say anything bad about us, even if it's justified, we'll cancel your account." I mean, what kind of idiot would continue to do business with me under those terms?

An idiot that has no other option for service. AT&T would LOVE to be back to the pre-1984 days where they dominated virtually all telecommunications in the US.

At the same time, others will say that refusing service to someone for simply criticizing AT&T is infringing on the right to free speech.

And those people are right.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By Murst on 10/2/2007 10:09:58 AM , Rating: 5
Sorry, but you have got no clue about what the right to free speech is, at least in the US of A.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment's right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government, be it federal or state. Now, please explain how this "freedom of speech" is infringed upon by AT&T.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By euclidean on 10/2/2007 12:48:58 PM , Rating: 2
This is a company that you signed a contract with...not the Government.

Though i do agree it's BS, I still see where the company is coming from, and if you don't like it, you have the freedom to leave that company.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By on 10/2/2007 3:08:21 PM , Rating: 1
This may surprise you, but a 'contract' doesn't override basic constitutional rights no matter how much AT&T may wish it could.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By Spivonious on 10/2/2007 3:39:23 PM , Rating: 3
AT&T is not having the police come out and arrest you for badmouthing them. They are cancelling your service with them. It is completely within their rights to do so. Read the first amendment again and show me where it says anything about a company restricting what you can say.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By Oregonian2 on 10/2/2007 3:43:43 PM , Rating: 3
True, but what AT&T is doing doesn't do that. Free speech means you can speak your mind and continue doing so. You aren't kept from doing so without being stopped from doing so. However it doesn't prevent others from responding and expressing their countering opinions using their free speech rights (something Hollywood actors/actresses don't seem to understand, with their heads in the clouds). If for instance, a Newspaper refuses to print an ad you want to place. THEY are the publisher of their newspaper and anything they refuse to print is their right to print/publish what they want to. That paper is their "speech". Free speech in the constitution does not require other entities to help you get your free speech out to others, just that you can do it however you can manage. AT&T is not required to assist you get your opinions out due to constitutional mandate, although business mandates may require them to do so. I'm not a lawyer, but I play one in forums. :-)

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By SoCalBoomer on 10/2/2007 4:37:34 PM , Rating: 2
That's true - and if AT&T stops your service, you're still able to say whatever you want, wherever you want, however you want - you just can't use THEIR service to do so.

Doesn't override basic constitutional rights at all. Just means that they aren't assisting you in your speech - which isn't guaranteed.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 10/3/2007 12:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
However, EVEN IF THEY COULD PREVENT YOU FROM speechifying agin them, the first amendment would still not protect you. The first amendment only protects you from the FEDERAL or STATE governments from preventing your free speech, not private companies. There may be other grounds for a case in contract or even tort, but not on constitutional grounds. But, this could potentially be a Title VII case in that event, in that a group of people were attempting to prevent your exercising your constitutional rights, but not a first amendment case.

HOWEVER, if AT&T controlled your only avenue to free speech (which they probably don't but the author tries to assert here - poor rural customers) then IF a court found that AT&T was not barring free speech and could do what they want with this contract language, the fact that THE COURT rendered such a decision COULD be construed as the government acting to abridge your rights to freedom of speech, and THAT ruling might be appealed on first amendment grounds.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By Icelight on 10/5/2007 1:04:22 PM , Rating: 2
The First Amendment's right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government, be it federal or state.

Oh, okay, so it is fine then for a business to not hire someone solely because they are of a certain religion, or skin colour. They're not government!

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By crystal clear on 10/2/2007 11:06:10 AM , Rating: 2
If I had a customer, and they were bad-mouthing my business, I certainly wouldn't service them either.

If yours is a small shop yes- but if you are somebody big as AT&T you do the following.

NO - you respond with appropriate press release-they call it Public relations.

You cut their services = its viewed as an admission of guilt.

Then you would appear like Apple ! evil....

Worst case scenario you take them to court.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By sintaxera on 10/1/2007 8:56:01 PM , Rating: 4
My sentiments exactly. I only use Bellsouth DSL and it SUCKS, REALLY, REALLY, SUCKS!!!! Testing, Testing, Testing....

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By hrah20 on 10/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: Let's Test That Theory
By crystal clear on 10/2/2007 4:17:02 AM , Rating: 2
Yes-hello- hello-can barely hear you !

Another class action suit on the way !

Hit them where it hurts-MONEY !

Out & Over.

RE: Let's Test That Theory
By AlexWade on 10/2/2007 3:51:44 PM , Rating: 2
Wow. A lot of AT&T hating.

Every cell phone company sucks. End of story.

Would you prefer Verizon which cripples their phones and wants to charge $2 for a ringtone while they disable any music transferring feature?

Or Sprint/Nextel, which charges extra for call details, nickel and dimes you death, endure rude customer service, and have a difficult time RECEIVING calls?

Or T-Mobile with dead zones in far too many places?

And yes, AT&T. Since I have them, my gripe with them is poor customer service. They are just inept.

And the list goes on. Every cell phone carrier in the US sucks. Local carriers are better, but still they suck. The best local carrier I found is SunCom which charges a flat fee that includes all taxes for unlimited calls anywhere in the US. But T-Mobile just bought them.

By rcc on 10/1/2007 4:56:44 PM , Rating: 5
You really don't have freedom of speech anywhere on the internet. Try dumping a post full of expletives here on Daily Tech and see what happens.

When you enter a website you are entering a place of business, if you don't conform to the rules, they can and usually will, kick you, delete your posts as necessary, etc.

What they can't do is stop you from speaking in person to your neighbor about how lousy your AT&T service is, nor can they terminate your service for that. Would be a fun court case tho.

RE: Newsflash
By rcc on 10/1/2007 5:03:35 PM , Rating: 2
However, if you posted the "I Hate AT&T Website, and This is Why They Suck" sit on their servers, I'm sure they would have a nice discussion with you regarding future service.

RE: Newsflash
By GaryJohnson on 10/1/2007 10:12:03 PM , Rating: 4
A, uh, 'friend's' parent's AOL account was terminated when I, er, HE was in Junior High for making an 'AOL Sucks' page on their free webspace.

RE: Newsflash
By Farfignewton on 10/3/2007 12:20:15 AM , Rating: 2
Now I know what to tell people who can't get AOL to stop billing them for their no longer desired disservices. :D

RE: Newsflash
By Farfignewton on 10/1/2007 9:08:39 PM , Rating: 4
You really don't have freedom of speech anywhere on the internet.

I have to disagree with that. Freedom of speech does apply on the internet. It is just that "freedom of speech" is NOT the all encompassing umbrella many think it is.

" Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech , or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances"

It does not say anything about daily tech having to put up with expletives. Nowhere does it say that the public must continue to buy Dixie Chicks albums if they say something unpopular. It does not say Don Imus gets to keep his job if he sends advertisers running for the hills. It wasn't intended to protect us from any and all consequences of speaking. Just the government.

When you enter a website you are entering a place of business, if you don't conform to the rules, they can and usually will, kick you, delete your posts as necessary, etc.

Yep. Personally, I love it when some dimwit says something profoundly idiotic, generally in front of a large audience or national media, and then cries into the uproar, "What about freedom of speech?"

Someone should ask them if they're enjoying it. :D

RE: Newsflash
By drebo on 10/2/2007 1:18:53 AM , Rating: 5
Fantastic point.

This is exactly right. The First Amendment applies only to the government. Not to corporations and their customers, not to the Internet, not to individuals.

The First Amendment says that the government cannot punish me for saying something. It doesn't say that businesses, people, internet forum moderators, and the like cannot punish me.

So, no, AT&T's new ToC has absolutely nothing to do with free speech. It has to do with AT&T protecting itself from libel and slander and exercising its right to refuse service to anyone.

I know that people like to color things purple when it comes to massive conglomerates, but being that this is supposed to be a "reputable" media outlet, could we at least see a little less bias when it comes to these types of articles? It makes you all look a little foolish.

RE: Newsflash
By bhieb on 10/2/2007 9:44:48 AM , Rating: 1
Be careful they might pull your post and infringe on your "freedom of speech". What a slanted article, I personally expect more from DT.

RE: Newsflash
By Ringold on 10/2/2007 1:26:52 PM , Rating: 4
Okay, you can all quote from the constitution! Fantastic; keep your copies handy for when we get a forced mandate by the federal government for health care. The 10th may be of interest.

But to move beyond legal scripture, the reason for DT posting such a thing is obvious. We aren't a society of cloned lawyers. We have cultural and moral values not reflected in the Constitution -- for good reason as it's meant to be a minimalist document for what once upon a time was a minimalist government. People around these parts expect the principle of free speech to be upheld to as strong a degree as is possible or reasonable everywhere. At least, that was my take on it.

RE: Newsflash
By Murst on 10/2/2007 2:21:35 PM , Rating: 2
I would be more than happy to pay up to 10% more taxes to provide basic health care to all Americans, if that is what it takes. In my eyes, this is the same resposibility we have as citizens as the need to educate minors.

Of course, I realize that not all people are willing to do that, but then again, I'm sure there are people who do not like to pay the government for police, school, roads, etc.

When Thomas Jefferson used John Locke's natural rights as the basis for our declaration of independance, its a shame he only included life, liberty and happiness (property). John Locke had listed 4 natural rights, and the one Jefferson omitted was the right to health.

RE: Newsflash
By TomZ on 10/2/2007 2:42:16 PM , Rating: 1
Not me, I already pay for my own family's health insurance. I would not want to also pay for the health insurance of other families as well. The tax burden is already too high now - we don't need more.

Everybody already has access to health care in our country, it's just that you have to pay for it. Just like other services and goods.

RE: Newsflash
By crystal clear on 10/2/2007 2:54:06 PM , Rating: 2
Testing, testing. Hello, can you still hear me?

Great comment!

RE: Newsflash
By Murst on 10/2/2007 4:31:40 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I also already pay for my family's health insurance (actually, I pay for a portion of it while my employer covers the rest).

Although I'm certainly not in favor of higher taxes (I doubt any taxpayer is), there are certain reasons I'd feel the tax raise is justified. Health care is one of those.

The tax burden is only this high because, for some reason, our government feels there is a need to spend half a trillion a year in developing methods to kill people. This money would have been much better spent healing, rather than killing.

Your last sentence is spot on, and I feel that is the problem. I think everyone should have access to health care just like every kid has access to an education.

And no, I don't want to move to Europe :)

RE: Newsflash
By TomZ on 10/2/2007 4:47:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I also pay for my kids education. We paid for pre-school, and we're paying our property taxes that go almost directly for education. When they are college-age, we'll pay for that, too. I don't see anything different there. We earn it, we spend it.

I think everyone in the US already as access to an education, just like they do with health care. There's no "free" education going on, at least not the way I see it, just like there's no such thing as a free lunch. The communities have to set up and pay for their local schools. This is paid for by the citizens.

I agree with you, though, Iraq is not worth the cost in terms of those who have died and been injured, the cost in dollars, the political capital spent, or the injury to the reputation of the US throughout the world. Big mistake that was.

But the mistake of the Iraq war doesn't justify making another mistake with "national healthcare." That's a disaster waiting to happen. And unfortunately, it looks like the Democratic presidential candidates are hitching their futures to those proposals, which can only be a plan for failure, either at the polls or during an actual implementation. At least Clinton should know better, having battled that beast once before.

RE: Newsflash
By Murst on 10/2/2007 5:41:44 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think any candidate is proposing a comprehensive (as in, pays for everything) health care package. I don't think that exists in any country in the world, actually. So, in the same way you're paying extra for education, you'd have to pay for health care. Its still better than what we have now, I think.

Just imagine though if you had to pay 15k a year (or more, who knows how much it'd really cost) for sending your kids from 1st to 12th grade (I realize some people do that already, but they're the huge minority).

RE: Newsflash
By TomZ on 10/2/2007 7:42:18 PM , Rating: 2
Well, someone has to pay for all this new healthcare that's being proposed. Unless the treasury is going to just print more money, it's probably going to have to be funded by additional tax revenues from taxpayers. That means that I'll effectively be paying for some other family's healthcare in addition to mine. I'm not going to be talked into that - never. You'll need to send someone to my house with a gun to make me pay - oh yeah, that's what they do now - I forgot.

My property taxes already exceed the average cost spent per child in our school district, not surprisingly. And the amount is nowhere near $15K/year.

RE: Newsflash
By mdogs444 on 10/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: Newsflash
By Murst on 10/3/2007 2:06:54 AM , Rating: 2
If you aren't sure, I really hope you do not vote.

If I forced myself to be sure about every issue a candidate stands for, there'd be no one left on the ballot.

Not to mention I don't see how you can be sure about a candidate anyways. Half the time they renig on promisses, the other half they give no details on implementation, and in the third half they forget about the issues they brought up during campaigning.

RE: Newsflash
By mdogs444 on 10/3/2007 6:47:16 AM , Rating: 2
Thats why there are political parties. Left wing and right wing parties are pretty much split on many main issues - abortion, gay marriage, welfare, etc.

The candidates themselves have ideas on how to approach what the party they represent believes in, not telling their party what to believe in.

Every democratic candidate wants a universal healthcare system, or they would not be sponsored by the democratic party.

Every replublican candidate does not want a universal healthcare system, or they would not be sponsored by the republican party.

Its quite easy to do research on what each candidates stand on each issue is.

Of course there are always exceptions - like Guliani for example. He is replublican, but some of his views are democratic - like his views on abortion and gay issues. Some consider his as far left on the republican meter as you can get.

RE: Newsflash
By Spivonious on 10/2/2007 3:46:20 PM , Rating: 2
The reason health care is so expensive is because insurance companies pay for it. Do you think they could get away with charging $500,000 for a heart surgery if you had to pay for it out of your pocket? No one would ever get heart surgery.

It's like when you go to the car body shop. The first thing they ask is "is this going through insurance?" because you know they charge more if it is.

What we need is government-controlled pricing of medical procedures, not state-supported healthcare. If you want that, move to the UK.

RE: Newsflash
By TomZ on 10/2/2007 3:59:03 PM , Rating: 1
...or Canada.

Anyway, government price controls almost never work. Think about it for a minute - if you force prices down, then fewer companies/people will offer those services - supply will decrease. And at the same time the lower price increases demand - and what do you end up with? Massive shortages. Forget about it, that's no solution.

RE: Newsflash
By senbassador on 10/3/2007 6:52:41 PM , Rating: 2
Not really true. Actually providers are known for charging more for people WITHOUT insurance more than those with-- probabbly to cover the costs of people with no money and no insurance. Remember that insurance companies want to keep their prices low to get customers from other companies. So they would have some clout how much they are willing to pay for.

RE: Newsflash
By Ringold on 10/2/2007 4:02:54 PM , Rating: 2
I think the non-OT part of my post was the best part, but I opened the door so I'll continue.

One of the Federalist Papers also indicates their fear of a critical flaw in our republic and democracy in general; the ability of the majority to, through the power of the federal government, infringe upon liberties or desires of the minority.

We didn't "copy and paste" Europeans; we're not Europe. We were founded on neo-classical liberalism (modern day Goldwater style conservatism). Including health would've created a massive federal government responsibility; I think they'd of rather been smited by the anti-Christ himself than do that. You must remember that before the New Deal especially we had a nearly Hong Kong style/level of federal government. The ND expanded the government such that the first years budget was larger than that of the entire rest of American history to date combined. These perceptions of government owing us this or that is entirely new.

I pointed to the 10th by way of pointing out that States, on the other hand, would have the right to implement health care based on the desire and needs of its own citizens. It was clear to them that constantly expanding federal power doesn't typically end well in the long run for anybody.

RE: Newsflash
By mdogs444 on 10/2/2007 8:08:54 PM , Rating: 2
IMO, your nuts. The democratic universal healthcare system is same as their child care system.

Their solution is to raise taxes to pay for preschool child care, which will require more mothers to work outside the home to pay the taxes, which will require them to put their children in government child care. Except welfare mothers. Those are the only women in America who democrats think should not work.

How is this method of thinking different from the universal healthcare system (making you work more to live the same lifestyle due to higher taxes because now you have to spend your hard earned money taking care of someone else?)? Exactly.

Article gets it all wrong
By porkpie on 10/1/2007 7:21:52 PM , Rating: 4
This has nothing to do with speech. It has to do with conduct. If you use your account to conduct activities (email spamming, running an illegal download site, etc), from an AT&T address, they reserve the right to cut you off. And yes I know many of those activities are already reflected in the terms of service. This is just a "catchall" phrase for anything they forgot to explictly spell out.

This will NEVER be used to cut off anyone's account just for criticizing AT&T directly.

RE: Article gets it all wrong
By crystal clear on 10/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: Article gets it all wrong
By crystal clear on 10/2/2007 9:20:59 AM , Rating: 2
Read this-

It clearly says-

or (c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.

Translation: "conduct" that AT&T "believes" "tends to damage" its name, or the name of its partners, can get you booted off the service. Note the use of "tends to damage": the language of the contract does not require any proof of any actual damage.

Go to the above link a get yourself updated.

RE: Article gets it all wrong
By porkpie on 10/2/2007 11:48:53 AM , Rating: 2
That "translation" is from a room-temperature IQ Ars Technica author, not a legal expert. Its also 100% wrong. If AT&T disconnected you for conduct which actually was non-damaging, you could clearly sue for damages.

Sure, they base their actions on their "beliefs". But if their beliefs are wrong, they wind up paying for them in a court of law.

RE: Article gets it all wrong
By crystal clear on 10/2/2007 2:14:23 PM , Rating: 2
OK this update settles all doubts about the matter-

We do not terminate customer service solely because a customer speaks negatively about AT&T

Free Speech?
By tjr508 on 10/1/2007 8:18:46 PM , Rating: 4
I hope the headline is supposed to mean "ATT policy suspends "right" to use ATT." ATT can deny service to whoever they want. It is their right. I cant believe progressives out there use the word "freedom" when they actually are wanting to take away the true freedom which is ATT's freedom of property.

RE: Free Speech?
By porkpie on 10/1/2007 9:01:01 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly. I find it funny that people who can (and do) cancel their service at any time, with no warning or even reason, think the guy on the other end of the contract (the ISP) shouldn't have the same rights.

RE: Free Speech?
By aikend on 10/1/2007 11:55:22 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not sure anyone is saying that AT&T doesn't have the right to structure the contract in this way. What I'm mostly reading is that people are offended that AT&T would choose to, and are expecting it to backfire in a bit way.

I can see the Verizon parodies now...
By Golgatha on 10/1/2007 5:27:30 PM , Rating: 5
Do you fear me now...good!

By FITCamaro on 10/1/2007 6:12:53 PM , Rating: 3

This deserves a 5.

I'd be screwed if I was stupid enough to have AT&T. I'm not afraid to complain about how bad a companies service is. Especially when I don't have a choice on whether to use it or not. Like my cable company.

Hmm... dunno about that one.
By therealnickdanger on 10/1/2007 4:46:10 PM , Rating: 4
The wording says that "conduct", not speech necessarily, can result in termination. For example, if you use their service in such a way as to interfere with the service of others or you abuse it somehow...

Meh, it's written by attorneys, it's not supposed to make sense.

RE: Hmm... dunno about that one.
By joex444 on 10/1/2007 4:58:43 PM , Rating: 2
Speech is a form of conduct that could damage the name or reputation of AT&T. So, what you've pointed out is that there are more ways to lose service than just saying they are the suck.

It's as clear as...
By DeepBlue1975 on 10/1/2007 4:52:41 PM , Rating: 2
It's as clear as saying "give me something or give me something else".

If the definition of what they consider to be the said bad conducts is not explicit to the public, that bluntly means that AT&T can terminate your service whenever they want.

I doubt they'd use that "right" massively, though, as I'm sure they, as a capitalist company, won't want to stop getting money from their customers.

RE: It's as clear as...
By DeepBlue1975 on 10/1/2007 4:53:19 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry... I meant "Will not want", not "won't want" :S


RE: It's as clear as...
By themadmilkman on 10/1/2007 4:56:07 PM , Rating: 2
If the term "bad conduct" is not explicitly defined, then anybody who is cut off can sue AT&T and likely win. Why? Because the contract terms are enforced against the drafter of the contract. It is their duty to define the terms, and since they did not, well, they're likely to find themselves on the wrong end of a valid class-action law suit.

In other news
By tspinning on 10/1/2007 5:50:25 PM , Rating: 2
China has given AT&T an exclusive deal as the countries new ISP, and yes, if you don't like it, they can and will shoot you.

In fact, if they think you don't like it, they can and will shoot you.

RE: In other news
By justinmcg67 on 10/1/2007 9:14:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah pretty much. But the point here is that AT&T is protecting itself. This isn't "freedom of speech". As I recall, every big corporation takes criticism very well, as in, if you have a complaint, please tell us. That sort of thing. I mean, if you don't believe me go to a Fast Food restaurant and buy something...anything. Look on the receipt, somewhere in there it will say something to the degree of the service they have provided, and if you have any comments or feedback, to usually dial some 1-800 number.

So i doubt that they'll cut you off from service if you say, "AT&T's service blows." Just my $0.02. =)

RE: In other news
By DeepBlue1975 on 10/2/2007 1:29:39 PM , Rating: 2
If AT&T's service blows, then there should be at least some girls in there performing the job of blowing...
For the sake of clarifying my doubts, I'd like to meet them and see how they are getting their jobs done, so that I can tell if their ways come in handy to the customers or if they really blow.

Freedom of Post
By RandomStyuff on 10/2/2007 6:49:07 AM , Rating: 2
Free speech is when you talk. What about when you write?

I vote for Freedom of Posting!!!!!

RE: Freedom of Post
By frobizzle on 10/2/2007 8:32:01 AM , Rating: 2
Free speech is when you talk. What about when you write?

That is, without a doubt, the stupidest posting I have ever seen on DailyTech!

Wait this is only the beginning........
By crystal clear on 10/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: Wait this is only the beginning........
By on 10/2/2007 3:17:22 PM , Rating: 2
subjecting them instead to binding arbitration

And courts have overturned these 'arbitration clauses' over and over again.

Just as I'm (fairly) sure courts would not uphold any part of a contract negating a customer's ability to have an opinion.

By MightyAA on 10/3/2007 7:17:21 PM , Rating: 2
Not exactly. The courts have upheld the right to trial. They also heavily recommend an attempt at arbitration or mediation prior to a formal lawsuit. Arbitration is a hell of a lot cheaper and quicker than a trial. But there are limitations such as punitive damages.

That writeup was very, very biased. Arbitration clauses are typical in pretty much every contract I've seen; that doesn't waive your rights to a trial if you so wish.

They are somewhat biased in as far as they look at the contract. 99% of the time, the company made that contract, knows what's in there, and you just signed it. Typically, the person that just signed the darn thing didn't read the clauses and doesn't understand. You'll get no pity from the arbitration or from the courts for ignorance and failure to abide by the contract.

Again, if you don't want to use AT&T, then don't... If they are THE only option, bend over because you need them a lot more than they need you.

Businesses CAN choose their customers
By paydirt on 10/3/2007 9:11:08 AM , Rating: 2
Conversely, there is no constitutional right to telephone or data service.

Businesses CAN choose their customers. If they do not like doing business with a customer, they do not have to do business with that customer. It's the same as being asked to leave at a restaurant or bar, or a lawyer or accountant firing an annoying client. Nothing new.

By mdogs444 on 10/3/2007 9:52:14 AM , Rating: 2
Very true -

Businesses can choose their customers, but they cant cannot choose who works for them. I wonder if the liberals will try to implement an "affirmative action" clause for having to maintain a certain % race in your client base.

AT&T sucks my big toe!
By reredrum on 10/1/2007 8:20:33 PM , Rating: 1
if i were apple i'd hurry up and pull the iphone from at&t quick. if they implement this, they will loose a hell of a lot of customers. if at&t sees or hears that someone is talking bad about them, or are otherwise not satisfied with their service, then they need to talk to them and make the situation right, not suspend them!

at&t needs to come off their high horse and realize that the iphone won't always be an at&t exclusive, and there is no such thing as an at&t monopoly. thanks to directv and vonage u can have internet, television, and telephone anywhere in the northern hemisphere.

RE: AT&T sucks my big toe!
By rgsaunders on 10/1/2007 10:03:55 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry to burst your bubble, but your little area does not constitute the whole of the northern hemisphere, or even close. Unfortunately many parts of Canada and the US are limited to 1 regional provider, either through lack of infrastructure or through no-compete agreements. Don't make wild statements based on inadequate knowledge.

Sounds like?....
By A5un on 10/2/2007 1:40:32 AM , Rating: 3
Sounds like retaliation to me...

So AT&T can terminate my contract if I publicly file a complaint with government body and read aloud everything I wrote in my complaint on record on TV? Regardless of damages done to the company's reputation, retaliation is illegal. And that's that.

And do you know what other organizations do this sort of things? Yes, gangs, except in their case they shoot you instead of terminating your plan.

P.S. I had to experience chronic unease when my computer broke down and I had no Daily Tech to read...Thank goodness I've got the internet again. Daily Tech is the best!

By pauldovi on 10/1/2007 4:47:57 PM , Rating: 2
Dailytech uses AT&T? They might cut your service for posting this article. haha

Bad move on their part. This will be more negative PR than anything else.

Pertains to Defamation
By mmntech on 10/1/2007 5:38:39 PM , Rating: 2
Reading it, I think it pertains to slander and libel. I don't think AT&T is going to kick Joe Farmer off the internet because he said he doesn't like the service in their blog. I think this pertains to big corporations and such, not the small potatoes consumers. Then again, I could be wrong. Sprint did cancel people's subscriptions because they were calling to complain about their service too much.

Wikipedia explains defamation better than I can.

By SiliconAddict on 10/1/2007 6:18:25 PM , Rating: 2
Crapular can burn in hell.

Alrighty then!
By Misty Dingos on 10/2/2007 1:13:31 PM , Rating: 2
Now that we know what they meant by there TOS. We can say all the vile things we want to about ATT.

But if they find out that we have a web site where we want to blow up the world while chasing four year olds 'high' on viagra waving the nazi flag then we are done.

That completely clears that up. I feel lots better now.

Oh by the way ATTs response to this article was faster than their customer service wait time.

Over reacting
By pomaikai on 10/2/2007 4:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
This is what happens when the average person tries to read legal wording. They always assume the worst and hate the company. All they are saying is use our network nicely or you will be kicked from it.

This is the problem with media. Lets try to mangle everything so it makes headlines.

No soup for you!!!
By Captain Orgazmo on 10/2/2007 9:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
I think that the story picture should perhaps be one of the Soup Nazi. It seems a more fitting analogy, as I don't know what Darth Vader has to do with this.

Customer Service
By beckster02 on 10/2/2007 10:24:23 PM , Rating: 2
Just how does a company plan to improve its services if its business model is such that when a customer complains they can just cancel the customer's account?

That doesn't seem to lend itself well to serving your customers better by listening to their complaints and trying to improve your business...

Now I see the light
By AlphaVirus on 10/3/2007 12:55:30 PM , Rating: 2
This is the reason Apple and A-TnT got in bed together with the Iphone...they both like to control their customers.

Boy its all starting to add up.

By psychmike on 10/3/2007 4:17:43 PM , Rating: 2
"AT&T has issued the following statement with regards to the above policy: "...we retain the right to disassociate ourselves from websites and messages explicitly advocating violence, or any message that poses a threat to children (e.g. child pornography or exploitation). We do not terminate customer service solely because a customer speaks negatively about AT&T. This policy is not new and it's not unique to AT&T.""

Well then say it in the contract rather than in separate policy announcements that can be changed when no one is looking. If the issue is as clear cut as AT&T states it is, it should not be hard to codify. My sense is that they're only bringing in violence and child abuse in an attempt to nullify critcism ("What, you're FOR terrorist child molesters?"), a very shabby and lazy arguement.


Fear Factor In Action
By teckytech9 on 10/4/2007 1:48:36 AM , Rating: 2
This Article instills fear from AT&T to state that any of its customers who file a complaint may get their service disconnected. What is not stated is that those that do complain do so for the betterment of each and everyone who receives service.

The iPhone fiasco is a prime example of what happens when companies decide what is best to suit their greedy profit motives. Customers end up with 2-year contracts, paying too much for something that is not 100% owned by them, and should have been free in the first place.

Look for iPhone lookalikes from LG, Nokia, Google, etc, (Qwerty keyboard, built-in camera, 3G, etc...). Oh, forgot to mention, its not chained to one provider either. Many thanks to the complainers and those fighting for "Net Neutrality".

It is illegal
By nine9nin on 10/2/2007 12:31:37 AM , Rating: 2
contract law does not supersede federal law (free speech), If you sign a contract that has something illegal in it, you can have that part invalidated in court.

RE: It is illegal
By drebo on 10/2/07, Rating: -1
By crystal clear on 10/2/07, Rating: 0
"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
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