Why AT&T's Plans To Filter The Internet Will Only Do More Harm To AT&T (And Everyone Else)

from the not-a-good-idea dept

AT&T announced last summer that it was going to start filtering traffic for copyrighted content -- so we're still not entirely sure why many in the press seem to think it was something new when discussed at CES a few weeks ago. However, this new burst of attention has many more people pointing out all the reasons this is bad for AT&T itself. As we said, this seems to make no sense at all, unless it's some bizarre attempt to come up with an excuse to get rid of net neutrality. In that post, we noted that any filtering would likely open up additional liabilities for AT&T, potentially losing its safe harbors from being a service provider (safe harbors that AT&T itself spent a lot of effort lobbying to have put into the law). Tim Wu has a lot more detail on that aspect of this plan (which he calls "corporate seppuku"). However, there are many other problems for AT&T as well. For example, it won't take long for someone to accuse AT&T of violating wiretap laws, a charge which may be accurate. But the biggest point is that this won't even do what they hope it will do. It won't stop unauthorized transfers from happening and it won't reduce network traffic. As we've discussed in the past, every move to do this kind of filtering will only drive up the market for encryption technologies, and that encryption actually adds more overhead to internet traffic. The PC World article linked above notes that 20% of all bittorrent traffic is encrypted, and if that number goes up, as it will under a filtering regime, the network load will only increase. So, if AT&T actually thinks (as it sometimes claims) that filtering will decrease the burden on the network, it's likely very mistaken.

Filed Under: encryption, filtering, liability, network neutrality
Companies: at&t

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  1. identicon
    sterlingsilver, 21 Jan 2008 @ 10:03am

    I always thought, that if I have nothing to hide, who may hurt me. BOY! was I wrong. Bring this topic to your other discussion groups. More people aware, the better.
    I have a lot of problems just operating my computer, AT-T how about working on spyware and leave "FREEDOM OF SPEECH" alone. There are enough nuts trying to do and place limitations as it is. USA suppose to be bastion of freedom, not benevolent dictatorship. As it is instead of "LEADERS" we are trying to elect people who are best of following gray uneducated masses. Leaders suppose to lead, and be better than average berr guzzling, footballstaring JOEBLOW. And that are people who vote, and politicians follow those polls. No wander just a few get exited, that privacy gone even from bedroom. Internet to the rescue. Spread the word and read small print, where freedom being chipped away, small piece at the time. Look at HEppa laws, but than you need days of work and at least some brains, and we have people who talk on $400 phone and never learned to read. So educate others in discussion groups, what else regular person may do? Soon it will be filtered out. !(*$ come and gone. Orwell Clock work orange is a reality. Use tools IT gave us and manage knoledge. I am glad someone else noticed erosion of privacy, that starts innocuosly, like copyriht. There are laws on the books on copyright, why do we need filtering of all content? Conspiracy theory: you whant to bet who are going blamed for it? Hate is free, freedom of internet requires work and fire in your chest. Don't give up, keep steering muddy waters. {Now dorr opens and people with black suits take me away}

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