AT&T is known for often taking stands unpopular with its customers. Even Apple has indicated that it is growing impatient with AT&T for, among other things, not allowing MMS messaging on the iPhone. However, AT&T may have bitten off more than it realized when it decided to block portions of popular internet meeting place 4chan.org.
The site which receives 150,000 to 200,000 messages a day certainly has plenty of offensive comments. And it’s often used to launch everything from internet pranks to serious attacks. The hacker group Anonymous is known to frequent the boards.
Apparently offended by the board, AT&T decided to block its internet users' access to it. Starting at 10 a.m. PST on Sunday, the img.4chan.org subdomain was blocked. According to CentralGadget.com, an internet spokesperson confirmed that the company was "currently blocking portions of the internet site 4chan.org."
AT&T's spokeperson reportedly said that the block was "following the practices of their policy department." The spokesperson reportedly claimed to have contacted site owner Christopher "Moot" Poole and received a list of demands. Mr. Poole says he was never contacted and is confused at AT&T's claims.
Now the company has finally restored access to the site, but that hasn't stopped anti-AT&T groups such as "Project AT&T" and "4chan4ever" from popping up. Among their first efforts was to start a Digg campaign falsely proclaiming that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had passed away. More efforts are expected to launch today.
Many are speculating that there must be more to this story -- some sort of attack originating from 4chan.org that hasn't been reported yet. Otherwise, it's hard to believe that even AT&T would be brazen enough to kick such a noisy hornets’ nest.
quote: Unfortunately, as an unintended consequence of the method used [to filter a DDoS attack against 4chan], some Internet users received errant traffic from one of our network switches. A handful happened to be AT&T customers. In response, AT&T filtered all traffic to and from our img.4chan.org IPs (which serve /b/ & /r9k/) for their entire network, instead of only the affected customers. AT&T did not contact us prior to implementing the block. Here is their statement regarding the matter. In the end, this wasn't a sinister act of censorship, but rather a bit of a mistake and a poorly executed, disproportionate response on AT&T's part. Whoever pulled the trigger on blackholing the site probably didn't anticipate [nor intend] the consequences of doing so.