AT&T Blocks 4chan Over DDoS… But May Not Like What Happens Next…
from the that-would-not-be-a-good-thing... dept
A few folks have submitted the news that, apparently, AT&T is blocking access to a certain subdomain of 4chan. I just checked on my own AT&T DSL account and it’s true that I can’t get there (I can get there if I don’t go via AT&T). That doesn’t mean that AT&T definitely is blocking it, but there are reports that folks at AT&T have admitted that it’s true. If you don’t know what 4chan is, the 4chan Wikipedia page is probably the best way to understand it. Even if the site is controversial for some, it does seem quite extreme for AT&T to do an outright block, without any official warning or immediate explanation. Outright blocking of websites, without recourse and without a clear explanation of why, is extremely questionable and the sort of “net neutrality” violation that the FCC would likely come down hard against. If it’s true that there’s a block, perhaps AT&T is assuming that no one serious (such as the FCC) would come to the defense of 4chan, but that might be a mistake (in part because AT&T probably won’t like what happens when 4chan decides to come to its own defense). Hopefully this will be explained away as a mistake. So far, the best explanation I’ve seen is (via 4chan) the claim that the subdomain was involved in some sort of DDoS attack, but you would think that, if that were the case, AT&T would have just made that clear from the beginning. Not coming out with a clear and concise explanation just looks bad, and seems to be stirring up 4chan folks to make a statement — something AT&T almost certainly does not want. AT&T may be able to tap your phones, but getting on the wrong side of 4chan seems like a bad, bad idea.
Update: As expected, AT&T has confirmed (as we believed) that this was over a DDoS attack:
Beginning Friday, an AT&T customer was impacted by a denial-of-service attack stemming from IP addresses connected to img.4chan.org. To prevent this attack from disrupting service for the impacted AT&T customer, and to prevent the attack from spreading to impact our other customers, AT&T temporarily blocked access to the IP addresses in question for our customers. This action was in no way related to the content at img.4chan.org; our focus was on protecting our customers from malicious traffic.
Overnight Sunday, after we determined the denial-of-service threat no longer existed, AT&T removed the block on the IP addresses in question. We will continue to monitor for denial-of-service activity and any malicious traffic to protect our customers.
That said, I still think AT&T failed here, in that they did not make this clear from the outset. If they had stated upfront what the situation was, in conjunction with the temporary block, they would have been much better off. But by silently blocking, they kicked off a firestorm that had to have been expected by anyone aware of 4chan.