AT&T to police the Internet

AT&TThough details are vague, the LA Times reports that AT&T is joining forces with Hollywood and the recording industry in a concerted effort to begin more aggressive policing of its network in order to prevent users from sharing pirated content, such as films and music.

This is a sea-change for a major Internet provider, where there exists a tradition of remaining hands-off towards content passed over the network. James W. Cicconi, an AT&T senior vice president explained the change on policy, saying that as AT&T has begun selling pay-television services, the company’s interests have become more closely aligned with Hollywood.

Last week, about 20 technology executives from Viacom Inc., its Paramount movie studio and other Hollywood companies met at AT&T headquarters to start devising a technology that would stem piracy but not violate privacy laws or Internet freedoms espoused by the Federal Communications Commission.

Naturally, digital rights advocacy groups aren’t impressed, with Gigi B. Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, quoted as saying:

“AT&T is going to act like the copyright police, and that is going to make customers angry,” she said. “The good news for AT&T is that there’s so little competition that where else are the customers going to go?”

And that’s the real problem. Not only do many US Internet users get their connectivity from AT&T, but the company also provides the infrastructure for other ISPs.

Related post: Will ISPs spoil the online video party?

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

3 Responses to “AT&T to police the Internet”

  1. Peter says:

    No worries my friend. The thousands of hackers working on the next generation of P2P protocols will make them indistinguishable from normal net traffic or other binary streams like Skype.

    Incidentally, do you realize what kind of computing power is necessary to analyze every IP packet from 1 million users for “contraband”? And how error-prone such analysis is?

  2. ID says:

    The ever looming prescence of big brother looming over us is just about ta make me snap!

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