AT&T Wants To Be Copyright Police
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.