AT&T Wants To Be Copyright Police

    July 13, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

How would you feel about your ISP digging into the stuff you send out to check for pirated content? Sounds kind of Big-Brotherish, doesn’t? A sort of TSA for your data packets. Enter Ma Bell and the Copyright Police.

The Los Angeles Times reports that AT&T is working on some packet-sniffing technology on behalf of Hollywood and the RIAA, which, if successfully developed, will monitor packets coming through the network.

AT&T’s sudden interest in packet-sniffing comes as "the company has realized that its interests are more closely aligned with Hollywood." This new alliance is due to AT&T’s new television service U-Verse.

Gigi B. Soh, president of Public Knowledge isn’t happy about it:

"AT&T is going to act like the copyright police, and that is going to make customers angry," she said. "The good news for AT&T is that there’s so little competition that where else are the customers going to go?"

Indeed. As Nate Anderson at ArsTechnica notes, after making a nice point about a technological "arms race," it’s rather difficult to get anywhere on the Internet without crossing over AT&T toll roads:

In addition to running a massive network of its own, AT&T runs a good chunk of the backbone infrastructure in the US. It’s a rare bit of traffic that can make it to its destination without passing on to an AT&T-owned network. If the company deploys its anti-piracy technology to all data passing through its networks, AT&T’s "solution" could affect most US Internet users.

AT&T denies that user privacy in jeopardy. And their close-knit relationship with the National Security Agency, we know, is proof of their commitment.