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Stunning new filtering plan contradicts its “Your World” marketing campaign

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson confirmed that the telecom and internet giant is “very interested” in a “technology based solution” to monitor data passing through its networks for rogue peer-to-peer traffic.

“It’s like being in a store and watching someone steal a DVD,” said Stephenson. “Do you act?”

Such a move would affect more than just AT&T’s subscribers, as the company’s network investments represent a sizable chunk of the internet’s backbone – which results in almost all Internet data passing through its network at some point. Given that AT&T has, so far, been pensive about the scope of such a project, many are assuming the worst.

More importantly, AT&T may forfeit its end of the deal in what Slate’s Tim Wu calls “the grand bargain of common carriage:” legal immunity from whatever claims might arise from data its network transports, in exchange for offering network service to anyone in a nondiscriminatory fashion. “AT&T's new strategy reverses that position and exposes it to so much potential liability that adopting it would arguably violate AT&T's fiduciary duty to its shareholders,” writes Wu.

In an absence of any official word on why AT&T wants to implement such a project, many people think that the primary motivator is an alarmed response to the growing percentage of traffic attributable to P2P activity; various surveys claim that anywhere from 30 to 90 percent of all internet traffic is P2P related. Lately, ISPs both large and small have been testing the waters with a variety of traffic-shaping initiatives, including Comcast, which last year found itself in the middle of a scandal over how it handles BitTorrent traffic.

According to AT&T – as well as anecdotal reports and commentary from other ISP employees – Internet users should expect a more managed Internet experience in the near future, as technology is finally becoming sophisticated enough to allow for such large-scale projects.

“We recognize we are not there yet but there are a lot of promising technologies,” said AT&T executive James Cicconi, “but we are having an open discussion with a number of content companies … to try to explore various technologies that are out there.”

If anyone has the expertise to deploy such a large filtering project, it would be AT&T: the company was already caught red-handed with powerful data-mining hardware, which it used to gather information on the nation’s web traffic for the NSA.

“The volume of peer-to-peer traffic online, dominated by copyrighted materials, is overwhelming. That clearly should not be an acceptable, continuing status,” said NBC Universal’s general counsel, Rick Cotton. “The question is how we collectively collaborate to address this.”

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RE: Wrong analogy, AT&T
By eye smite on 1/26/2008 11:25:23 PM , Rating: 0
I also know that if something is converted from dvd to avi or divx and put on the net for download by anyone the person distributing the material is breaking the law and everyone else is considered fair use of something that was made public domain. This is going to get alot of boos and haters on me, but have the jewish community that owns and runs RIAA and MPAA got enough money without all the crying. This is the same thing they did in the 30s which lead to WW2. You don't have to believe me, read history books and find it yourselves.

RE: Wrong analogy, AT&T
By mcnabney on 1/27/2008 2:13:41 AM , Rating: 1
please, be a troll.

I don't want to imagine the world being full of people like you again...

RE: Wrong analogy, AT&T
By hedron on 1/31/2008 2:46:08 PM , Rating: 2
Well, both Bainwol and Sherman are Jews. So is Dan Glickman. Those are the head honcho's of the RIAA and MPAA. Of course, Bram Cohen wrote bittorrent, their arch-nemesis of sorts. What does this mean? I have no idea.

RE: Wrong analogy, AT&T
By masher2 on 1/27/2008 10:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
Did you actually blame the Holocaust on "money grubbing" jews? I had to read twice to believe my own eyes :(

RE: Wrong analogy, AT&T
By smitty3268 on 1/27/2008 11:56:55 PM , Rating: 2
It's certainly true that Jews had more financial success than most other groups, and that did cause people to resent them. But blaming the victims is never right, and blaming all of WW2 on them might just be the most idiotic thing I've ever seen on DT.

Also, there are plenty of people running the RIAA and MPAA who aren't Jews. They may be an influential group, but they don't control Hollywood.

RE: Wrong analogy, AT&T
By theapparition on 1/28/2008 1:52:16 AM , Rating: 2
It's certainly true that Jews had more financial success than most other groups

As with everything, most stereotypes usually have some basis for fact, even the ones that were not supposed to say are true (or were true many, many years ago).
In the middle ages, "Usury" (interest bearing lending) was forbidden for all Christians. As such, no Christian could loan money, or face the severe rath of the Catholic church. The Jew's stepped up and became the bankers of the time. The banking profession, was also considered one of the lowest occupations at the time. Amazing that after 1000 years, the stereotype has still existed as "money-grubbing", the "bankers", etc. Make you wonder what stereotypes of our time will be remembered in 1000 years from now.

RE: Wrong analogy, AT&T
By frobizzle on 1/28/2008 8:56:19 AM , Rating: 2
In the middle ages, "Usury" (interest bearing lending) was forbidden for all Christians.

So very wrong!! Usury is not just interest bearing lending, it is doing so with an exorbitant or unlawful rate of interest. Technically, at least in the US, it is still illeagal (though one wonders how some of the credit card companies bypass the law with interest rates of 29% or higher!)

RE: Wrong analogy, AT&T
By theapparition on 1/28/2008 10:26:19 AM , Rating: 3
I suggest you read up on your history before making a definitive rebutal.

Usury in the middle ages refered to charging interest of any kind. Later, as the practice became widespread and adopted, Usury became known as it is now, "exorbitant interest".

But I do agree with one of your points though, I don't know how some credit companies get away with their intrest rates and fees.

RE: Wrong analogy, AT&T
By masher2 on 1/28/2008 11:49:04 AM , Rating: 2
> "Usury in the middle ages refered to charging interest of any kind"

Very true.

Interestingly enough, in the Middle Ages, many got around the charging of interest in much the same way people do today-- by creating bloated "fees" and unrealistic "damages".

For instance, a lender might charge you nothing to borrow money from him...but you'd have to pay a "carrying charge" for him to safely transport it to you.

RE: Wrong analogy, AT&T
By jackedupandgoodtogo on 1/28/2008 2:04:50 PM , Rating: 2
Even more interesting, the Knights Templars were the only group allowed to charge interest and make loans bearing interest during that period. The Jewish nation may have adopted this practice because it was done during the Knight's control of Jerusalem. Some believe they started the modern day banking system. The History Channel (I think) had a very interesting documentary on the Knights Templar that discusses this subject.

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