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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 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.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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