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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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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
quote:
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.


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