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.

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Companies: at&t

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Comments on “AT&T Content Filtering Plans Actually About Helping AT&T Subscribers?”

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Raptor85 (profile) says:

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.

Yep says:

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?

Pirate says:


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.

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