June 14th, 2007

Conbadge

If you're an AT&T DSL customer...

To whom it may concern:

I recently read about a plan AT&T is considering to detect and block copyrighted content travelling over its network.

While I agree with the idea and principle of copyright, I was surprised and appalled to learn that AT&T is planning to examine my network traffic, and allow it to pass only if AT&T doesn't think it's "infringing content". Some areas of copyright law are complex and subtle (for example, the concept of "fair use"), and automated filtering simply cannot make the necessary value judgements.

When I signed up for AT&T DSL (back when it was Pacbell), it was because AT&T offered high-quality, unfiltered Internet services. You did not attempt to define what users should and shouldn't do on the Internet. (This was in stark contrast to ISPs such as Comcast, which at the time chose to firewall VPN traffic unless I paid them more money every month.) Now I find that AT&T will be examining the content of my traffic and making decisions based on whether or not, in its sole estimation, that traffic is infringing anyone's copyright.

This is totally unacceptable behavior for an ISP. AT&T is neither a judge nor a jury, and as such, it is not qualified to determine if content is violating copyright law. If AT&T continues to pursue its present course of action, I will gladly switch to another provider, and I will encourage my friends and relatives to do the same.

-- Des