AT&T Content Filtering Plans Actually About Helping AT&T Subscribers?

from the help-me-do-what-exactly? dept

We were confused over the summer when AT&T announced plans to follow the entertainment industry's request to have ISPs install filters to try to block the transfer of unauthorized content. It didn't make much sense for a variety of reasons. First, it's hard to see why AT&T should be involved at all in a business model issue for the entertainment firms. It's difficult to see the business advantage to AT&T. It's going to cost quite a bit to install those filters and it's likely to piss off plenty of AT&T customers -- especially once those filters start slowing traffic down and blocking perfectly legitimate material (and, yes, it will do both things). However, AT&T is now defending this decision before Congress by claiming that these filters will actually help consumers: "It's about making more content available to more people in more ways."

That's quite a claim considering filters do exactly the opposite of that. The whole point of the filter is to make less content available. Saying otherwise is simply doublespeak. However, to be fair, I'm going to assume that the response from supporters of AT&T's position would probably be that what the AT&T exec means is that by filtering content it'll make entertainment companies more comfortable with putting more content online. That's a stretch, at best, and actually shows a huge incorrect assumption made by many people in this debate: that "content" is what comes from big entertainment companies. The fact is that content comes from all over these days -- some of it is professionally produced and some of it is not. However, what's valuable content on the internet is not the professionally produced stuff, so much as all of the other content... that often shows up as "communication." The internet doesn't need "broadcast" content to thrive. It's done just fine without it for years. On the other hand, the big entertainment companies probably do need to figure out the internet if they want to survive. It seems a bit backwards that the companies that need the internet the most, want the internet to change for them, rather than realizing they need to change for the internet.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Faz, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 9:05am

    AT&T is now defending this decision before Congress by claiming that these filters will actually help consumers: "It's about making more content available to more people in more ways."

    DID ATT SERIOUSLY SAY THAT.. HAHHAA MORON. Well we have learnt that driving in reverse makes us go forward hhahahaa

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    William, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 9:11am

    ???

    I think they mean that by shutting down file sharing. There would be more bandwidth for legal uses like commerce.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    James, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 9:21am

    Show me one person who can't conduct commerce beca

    ... and I'll let you in on this wonderful real estate deal in Lower Manhattan. It's about this bridge.... goes to Brooklyn, kinda big, kinda old, good condition though. Think of all the ad space you could sell on it! Really good price, going fast!

     

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  4.  
    icon
    mdmadph (profile), Oct 4th, 2007 @ 9:24am

    Doublespeak...

    ...is what the Party does best. Don't be surprised by it.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Fred, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 9:32am

    1984

    Ignorance is Strength

    War is Peace

    Thoughtcrime is Death

    The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    chris (profile), Oct 4th, 2007 @ 9:42am

    Re: Doublespeak...

    orwellian doublespeak for sure:

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

    why doesn't AT&T just change it's name to Big Brother and get it over with?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    James Burk, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 9:48am

    I wonder if they would extend their filters to sites like mine that allow people to bypass these blocks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 9:59am

    ATT can blow me

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Mike, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 11:12am

    Easy enough

    Just don't use ATT. Easy as that, if ppl leave the service over it, they will come around pretty quick.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Yep, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 11:30am

    Re: Easy enough

    Really easy when you live in a town that only has ATT service as broadband? Of course that means I should move then right? What if I don't have the money to move?

    Where is my easy answer? Dial-up is not a viable option due to the fact that I am on call once ever few weeks. When a call comes in, the work is usually done from home (it's quicker, easier, and saves me tons of money on gas). Are you going to come to my area and and set up your own broadband company instead for a comparable price so that there are easy answers for people like me? Am I in the minority by living in rural America?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Easy enough

    ATT has the backbone of the internet, this is not as simple as choosing a different local provider if that option is available.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Satellite, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 12:15pm

    Easy Enough...

    Lol, what are you yelling at him for?...there's always satellite.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    local user, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 1:35pm

    with or with-out the filters;all activity is monitored anyway yop=spyware

     

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  14.  
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    RandomThoughts, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 2:31pm

    Why shouldn't AT&T be big brother? They already have the deathstar logo. I do miss Ed though, he had some great lines. These guys in front of Congress are pikers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Oct 4th, 2007 @ 2:53pm

    It doesn't matter...

    ...what the AT&T execs say to Congress. The money under the table has already spoken.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Raptor85, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 3:34pm

    Re: ???

    Not really aimed at the parent post so much as just being more specific in what he said. Though it may be what ATT is trying to say, it should be noted that file sharing is NOT illegal, and though it is heavily used for illegal purposes it is also heavily used for legal purposes.

    Off the top of my head a few legal uses that, on the ISP side, would be indistinguishable from illegal uses.

    1. Downloads for open source projects such as OpenOffice, Mandriva, ubuntu, and NetBSD are offered over P2P, and is the recommended download method (saves the distributors in bandwidth, kinda important in gratis software)
    2. World of Warcraft's auto-update tool (P2P using
    BitTorrent protocol)

    They might just as well go farther and ban IP, because ALL the protocols on top of it contribute to illegal actions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    newmanae, Oct 5th, 2007 @ 2:44am

    Control

    ATT is all about control, cable tv is their model for what the internet should look like and given our governments record in dealing with the entertainment industry and isp's it won't be long before they tame this tiger.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Pirate, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 11:38am

    Freedom

    It has alwasy been illegal to profite from pirated copywrited material. In the 80's cassette tapes were made by the billions but selling them was considered piracy. Sure you hade a few jokers selling duran duran out of the trunk of the car I suppose but this new debate is about freedom. Simply boycotting ATT will not be enough, this company was broken up in the past for monopoly and consumer abuse. Its time to do it again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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