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AT&T to Help MPAA Filter the Internet?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the real-man-in-the-middle-attack dept.

The Internet 219

Save the Internet writes "Ars Technica is reporting that the MPAA is trying to convince major ISPs to do content filtering. Now, merely wanting it is one thing, but the more important point is that 'AT&T has agreed to start filtering content at some mysterious point in the future.' We're left to wonder about the legal implications of that, but given that AT&T already has the ability to wiretap everything for the NSA, it was only a matter of time before they found a way to profit from it, too."

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Prepare for boardin' by the MPAA! (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673785)

Arr, where isOliver Wendell Jones and his swashbuckling Banana PC when ye need them!

Now, merely wanting it is one thing, but the more important point is that 'AT&T has agreed to start filtering content at some mysterious point in the future.' We're left to wonder about the legal implications of that, but given that AT&T already has the ability to wiretap everything for the NSA

Avast, all the p2p sites need to do is mask the activity by sendin' and receivin' "noise" (content of random or random packets of encoded content with pre-arranged means of embedding send and receive commands, encoded by phrases passed by other means.) Arr, I be reading too many cryptographer tales.

Re:Prepare for boardin' by the MPAA! (1)

watermodem (714738) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673857)

What about non-MPAA content?
Like home movies
Ads
Video Reporting?
etc...

Re:Prepare for boardin' by the MPAA! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20674107)

doesn't matter. a corporation's right to profit overrides any rights of mere consumers (yes, consumers, not citizens).

they would prefer those removed anyway. they're competition.

Re:Prepare for boardin' by the MPAA! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20673889)

When is this pirate stuff going to be over and done with?

It's kind of fun, but we can't point out people's grammatical errors like we can with the good old non-pirate speak.

Re:Prepare for boardin' by the MPAA! (5, Funny)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674007)

> When is this pirate stuff going to be over and done with?

Tomorrow. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Prepare for boardin' by the MPAA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20674515)

Tomorrow.
Arrrr, Be that UTC er local time?

E-there way it be comin' to an end soon.

Re:Prepare for boardin' by the MPAA! (1)

WhyDoYouWantToKnow (1039964) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674331)

When is this pirate stuff going to be over and done with?

When the MPAA (and RIAA) realize that there is a market here and stop attacking their customers, realize that their current operating procedure is flawed and evolve with technology.

In other words, never (or at least a very long time).

Re:Prepare for boardin' by the MPAA! (1)

kennygraham (894697) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674789)

Arrr, wrong pirate stuff, matey.

content filtering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20673807)

sooo thats what? sniffing for bittorrent packets and sending them off to never-never land? seriously i dunno, anyone wanna give some more details into what that means. blocked websites maybe? i'd be surprised, but then again... i wouldn't be.

Not surprising (0)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673861)

AT&T is the company that used to own people's phones, so one would expect them to do something like this. Fairly easy and profitable for them, even if it is morally suspect.

Re:Not surprising (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673981)

AT&T is the company that used to own people's phones, so one would expect them to do something like this. Fairly easy and profitable for them, even if it is morally suspect.

Aye, the more ye be tightenin' yer grip, MPAA and AT&T, the more p2p content and customers will slip through yer fingars!

arr, wrong idiom!

Re:Not surprising (4, Funny)

rhombic (140326) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674529)

the more p2p content and customers will slip through yer fingarrrrrs!


There, fixed that for ya.

Re:Not surprising (4, Interesting)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674257)

I am not a law expert but isn't there some provision about ATT being a common carrier that gives them certain privileges and responsibilities. The later pertaining to being not concerned with content on the lines? If ATT can filter content then does that mean she is NOT a common carrier and not allowed the benefits (easements through private property without paying rent for it, use of governmental immanent domain to gain easements, etc?

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20674665)

neh, this argument keeps coming up here but it is old-school baloney show me a recent case where an ISP was busted for filtering based on a common-carrier law.

Re:Not surprising (4, Insightful)

Conception (212279) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674687)

Laws and "status" are only important if the current government wants to prosecute them.

Obviously, the current government does not. And sadly, I suspect, it will be some time before we get one that does.

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20675067)

It isn't the government they should be worried about. If they try to go through with a plan of filtering content, they will face class action lawsuits from groups trying to "protect" the rights of children from pornography online, etc..

Re:Not surprising (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674785)

Don't worry. If there was any chance that AT&T would lose it's common carrier status by filtering for the MPAA, I'm sure the NSA would make sure they would retain it. (Of course, the fact of the NSA's intervention would be a National Security Secret.)

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20675107)

You're sure? You have inside information about this?

The NSA can barely tell its head from its arrrrse. Telling me that it would somehow intervene (secretly) in a class action law suit by consumers against AT&T about the MPAA is absolute bunk. The NSA probably couldn't find the MPAA if you gave it a map and a compass. Why in the world would NSA care about what AT&T does for MPAA?

It's one thing if you really believe that AT&T and NSA worked together to intercept overseas phone calls. But NSA's involvement in the resulting lawsuit (Hepting v. AT&T) has been entirely public. Everybody knows that the NSA is involved and has been active in the case from the start. Why would they care one bit about the MPAA?

The only thing not surprising here is that your tinfoil hat is so nicely creased.

Re:Not surprising (4, Informative)

Holi (250190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20675079)

Well AT&T' s broadband division is completely seperate from its telephone division for this very reason (well probably more than just this reason). ISP's are not afforded common carrier status, the are ESPs or Enhanced Service Providers under FCC regulations and held accountable (well kinda) to a different set of rules.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before.

if only (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673875)

AT&T has agreed to start filtering content at some mysterious point in the future.
too bad the MPAA/RIAA dont sue them every time someone finds a way to share songs. that would be a great and ironic use of their legal team

Re:if only (4, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 7 years ago | (#20675163)

Actually, there are numerous cases in the past (around 2000-2002) of "content owners" trying to sue OSPs and ISPs. When good lawyers have been involved on the part of the OSPs/ISPs, as long as take-down notices have been properly handled, the cases have been thrown out of court. Some smaller ISPs and OSPs - in some of the earliest(IIRC) have settled. That trend died after the "content owners" started losing the cases against bigger OSPs/ISPs. I seem to remember NetCom as being one of them. The initial problem - back then - was that some of the suits pre-dated the DMCA (the DMCA not always being a bad thing). In some of those earlier cases, judges (with no technical knowledge of how the Internet works) had even ruled against ISPs/OSPs - ones that would have been protected by the DMCA.

Now, there has been an argument that an ISP/OSP who does start filtering that "unfilterable" content is opening themselves up to tons of lawsuits for anything they miss - part of the argument is that they are no longer providing the role of (just) a transport mechanism, since they are picking what content does - or does not - go through their pipes.

This situation may grow into something that tests that legal theory. I've personally talked to lawyers who think such actions would damage an ISPs/OSPs Safe Harbor claim. But then again, it's not their opinion (since it hasn't been tried yet) that matters... it's the outcome of any lawsuits that stem from AT&T failing to filter content that they should have.

While they may get blanket immunity from the **AA over such errors, other content owners have been looking for a wedge in (again numerous lawsuits) to hold OSPs/ISPs liable. After all, it is far more profitable - I mean easier to recoup losses - to win a lawsuit against an AT&T than against John Doe.

This also brings in the grey area of certain judges deciding that if AT&T can manage to filter certain types of content or traffic, then everyone should - opening more doors to suing OSPs/ISPs. At least in that particular case, the OSPs/ISPs have one particular clause in the DMCA still in their favor - which is (poorly paraphrased) an exclusion from being required to do so if that method makes the service unusable or creates ridiculous undue hardship on the ISP/OSP (for instance, a 20 person ISP needing to hire a team of thousands, or install tens of thousands of servers to be able to filter traffic in real time). That part of the DMCA though is kind of vague on specifics... leaving it open to interpretation... thus, what AT&T can do, and afford to do... most ISPs/OSPs cannot - but would a judge of questionable technology and Internet knowledge understand that?

the analogy holds true (0, Offtopic)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673877)

the more important point is that 'AT&T has agreed to start filtering content at some mysterious point in the future.'

Just like with bottled water, unless you get the filtered kind, you might end up with some tubgirl residue floating around in there.

Legal implications: none (5, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673909)

> We're left to wonder about the legal implications of that

No we're not. When AT&T permitted NSA to infiltrate/subvert its network in order to monitor all domestic and foreign Intarweb traffic, it broke enough privacy laws that the legal consequences would require the dissolution of the company.

Unlike Arthur Andersen and the Enron scandal, AT&T and the other US telcos are "too big to fail". Because no penalty can be assessed without bankrupting AT&T, no penalty can be assessed, period.

Now that the precedent has been set for some crimes (to date, those involving national security), there's nothing to stop it from being applied to other crimes (namely, those involving copying pictures of a cartoon mouse, or sounds emitted from a plastic-titted starlet).

As prophesized by the late, great Douglas Adams, the legal implications to AT&T are as follows:

"Have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?" said Mr. Prosser.
"How much?" asked Arthur.
"None at all," replied Prosser.

Re:Legal implications: none (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674029)

If I put on an explosive belt with C4 and a pressure trigger that bulldozer will be damaged quite a a lot.

Re:Legal implications: none (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674419)

If I put on an explosive belt with C4 and a pressure trigger that bulldozer will be damaged quite a a lot.

So, in the context of this discussion, wtf does that mean? You gonna hack AT&T's Gibson?

Re:Legal implications: none (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674685)

nah...no context at all. Just how I could stop the bulldozer :) or at least take it with me

Re:Legal implications: none (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20674463)

You first.

Re:Legal implications: none (3, Insightful)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674511)

When AT&T permitted NSA to infiltrate/subvert its network in order to monitor all domestic and foreign Intarweb traffic, it broke enough privacy laws that the legal consequences would require the dissolution of the company.


Source please?

Here's a thought experiment for you: you're a big company with lots of government contracts. A well-known government law enforcement agency comes to you and says "we need you do X, and it needs to be secret." Wouldn't you think that you could presume that the actions the government asks you to do are by definition legal? Or if they turn out to be illegal, you have reason to have acted in the manner you did, which dramatically lowers any punishment.

Has any controlling legal authority (to use former VP Gore's phrase) actually ruled that AT&T et. al. violated the law as opposed to having done something which smells bad?

I'm not a lawyer (thank God), but I've hung out with a bunch to know the difference between unpleasant acts and illegal ones.

Now, mind you, the above has no bearing whatsoever on any dealings between AT&T and the MPAA - I prefer my ISPs to behave as common carriers in the technical and legal sense. I do know that an ISP which actively filters then becomes more responsible when *bad stuff* gets through, so AT&T could be buying themselves a barrel of trouble if they implement this on a widespread basis (as opposed to an ad-hoc, subpoena-driven basis).

Re:Legal implications: none (2, Insightful)

sssssss27 (1117705) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674943)

So if a member of the government asks you to do something that you know is illegal you would do it?

Re:Legal implications: none (3, Informative)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20675101)

No, of course not.

However, if a member of a law enforcement branch of the government says "this is legal" and it's plausible, I might answer differently.

Re:Legal implications: none (0, Offtopic)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#20675113)

> So if a member of the government asks you to do something that you know is illegal you would do it?

If the price was right (in terms of increasing the likelihood of getting more government contracts in the future), and if you were so big that there's nothing that could be done to you even if the government stabs you in the back, absolutely.

AT&T meets both of these requirements. Lots of money to be made working for the government, and the threat of an Enron- or Worldcom-sized shock to the economy if any future administration should dare to doublecross it by permitting it to be sued for 300,000,000 privacy violations carrying a $10,000 fine for each violation.

That's the dangerous precedent that's been set here. Working with the intelligence community was the thin edge of the wedge. In the case of the intel community, there's no controlling legal authority... not because our spies are such s00per-s33krit-d00dz of l33t that we dare not expose their actions to the light of day, but because everyone (the judges included) took a hard look at the situation and decided to legalize any behavior that might otherwise result in a $3T lawsuit and the effective shutdown of the nation's re-assembled telecom monopoly.

Given that precedent, it's no big jump for a MAFIAA goon to ponder what it'll cost to get AT&T do do the same for its clients. The reason there's no controlling legal authority because no legal authority dare impose the sort of control that'd be necessary to dissuade an entity like AT&T.

Yarr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20673911)

Right. I'm setting sail for south Korea. Who's with me, men?

AT&T Responsible for Content? (1)

sssssss27 (1117705) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673917)

Would this mean that AT&T is now responsible for all the content that goes over their lines since they are demonstrating they have the ability to filter it?

Re:AT&T Responsible for Content? (2, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673991)

Not as I understand it (any lawyers feel free to correct me) but Telcos are common carriers only as applies to their voice networks. For reasons I don't fully understand, so-called "data services" are exempt.

Re:AT&T Responsible for Content? (1)

lmpeters (892805) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674171)

A am not a lawyer, either, but my understanding is that Telcos are common carriers (a.k.a. neutral carriers) as long as they treat all content equally. If they start to block content at the request of the MPAA (or anyone else), they are no longer a common carrier. Which would make them liable if they fail to stop traffic the MPAA doesn't like.

Re:AT&T Responsible for Content? (1)

sssssss27 (1117705) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674221)

I don't think they are common carriers, at least all of my reading seems to point that way. Also though, they have never been held responsible for what goes over their lines because they have always said that it would be impossible to filter it. This will show though that they can filter and if they can filter illegal movies why can't they filter out other illegal content?

Re:AT&T Responsible for Content? (2, Informative)

darkuncle (4925) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674269)

IANAL, but I'll correct you anyway. :)

http://www.cybertelecom.org/notes/telecom_carrier.htm [cybertelecom.org]
http://www.cybertelecom.org/notes/jones.htm [cybertelecom.org]

thus far, the law (CA 1934, CALEA, 47 U.S.C. 153(h)(1991), etc.) does not differentiate between a "communications provider" that uses voice or analog signal, and one that does packet pushing for data (which lately, could also be voice). Of course, as soon as you go modifying what you're carrying (snooping on traffic, prioritizing traffic for whoever pays the most, etc.) that common carrier status is in jeopardy.

The law could of course be rewritten at any time, or interpreted differently by any judge.

Re:AT&T Responsible for Content? (2, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674449)

thus far, the law (CA 1934, CALEA, 47 U.S.C. 153(h)(1991), etc.) does not differentiate between a "communications provider" that uses voice or analog signal, and one that does packet pushing for data

The FCC and the Supreme Court seem to have decided upon a different interpretation [coe.int] . The court upheld the FCC's interpretation of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

This quote is interesting:

The Court seemed to be somewhat uncomfortable, however, with the fact that the FCC's holding imposed common carrier obligations on high-speed digital subscriber line ("DSL") offerings by telephone companies, but not cable modem services--which compete head-to-head in the US internet access market.

and would indicate that the broadband offerings made by the Telcos are subject to common carriage regulation, whereas the cable outfits managed to avoid it. If that ruling still holds, it might put a bee in AT&T's bonnet.

Re:AT&T Responsible for Content? (1)

darkuncle (4925) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674679)

so SCOTUS agreed that DSL providers (and in my original comment, I had backbone carriers in mind, but did not specify) do in fact have common carrier status. ... which is what I said in the first place: data providers (not all of them, but the telcos anyway) are common carrier. Your initial comment indicated that you thought that status was only for POTS or voice service. (Not sure how VoIP would fall, if that were the case ...)

Re:AT&T Responsible for Content? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674277)

Sort of, but not as "common carriers".

Where they may get into hot water is that anyone with enough money and/or legal time on tap can sue the crap out of AT&T the first time they get a virus if it can be proven that the thing passed in or out of AT&T's networks. After all, if AT&T is busily filtering those nasty ol' bootleg movies, they should be reasonably expected to filter out the dangerous stuff, spam, and most of all to control any customer machines in their network that might have become zombified.

And... if you make exclusive for-sale content (say, for consignment sale on a website somewhere), you find some AT&T customer passing it around, and AT&T cannot immediately filter out the p2p version of your stuff, they could become just as legally liable as the guy passing it around. After all, if they can filter out copyright violations for the big movie types, then legally the same courtesy should be expected towards small content providers, no?

I'm prolly explaining it all wrong, but basically it boils down to the idea that if AT&T is responsible for any one bit of customer or inbound content that passes through their networks, then they are responsible for all of it, for good or ill.

/P

Certainly (2, Insightful)

Gates82 (706573) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674297)

If I had an AT&T filtered connection to the internet I would claim that "I use AT&T because they filter that content and therefore I assumed everything I had access to was legal," why, because they said, "they filter it".

--
So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's sister?

Deeeep pockets (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674425)

So if you read something on the net - through your filtered connection - about making explosives or picking locks, and then use that information to harm some third party, then that third party can sue you and AT+T?

justification for moving away from net neutrality. (1)

TheGeneration (228855) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673951)

This sounds like the first cannon fire in the legal war to no longer be required to practice net neutrality. They can use this as the justification to change what traffic goes across the internet they provide.

Re:justification for moving away from net neutrali (1)

einer (459199) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674121)

But they don't provide the whole internet, so they're going to provide a branded experience. A shitty experience. An experience that puts them at a competative disadvantage.

I mean. What's to stop a politically submissive cash cow from cutting off the pr0n? You think prohibition was bad? That could spark the first coup in my lifetime.

Re:justification for moving away from net neutrali (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20674507)

A shitty experience. An experience that puts them at a competative disadvantage.

Hahahahhahahhahahahha hahahahhahahhaahahhahaha hhahahhahahahhahahhahhahaha hahahahhaha hahah!

AT&T? At a competitive disadvantage? And who, pray tell, are they competing with?

Re:justification for moving away from net neutrali (1)

einer (459199) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674597)

Wireless providers, cable companies, satellite providers and really anyone who understands that the better experience wins all things being equal.

I would just love to see... (4, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673969)

ISPs burn themselves by getting into content filtering. Force them make a choice between "common carrier" status, where they aren't responsible for the traffic they carry, and being subject to suit over delivering damaging traffic, like viruses and DOS attacks.

Oh, good I can sue (3, Funny)

rossz (67331) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673987)

The first time some porn gets through their filters, I'm going to sue their ass. Hey, just because I typed, "hot teen lesbian action" doesn't mean I actually want to see that stuff!

The winners in other categories are... (2, Interesting)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 7 years ago | (#20673995)

Companies such as Endace [endace.com] . A start up from a NZ university, they've been on the Deloitte/Unlimited 50 fastest growing companies for several years (peaking at 1000% growth).

Someone has to make the product to enable this functionality, and if this goes ahead, it will prove very lucrative.

"The Encrypted Internet" (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674001)

I've always thought that over time, more and more services will become completely encrypted end to end.

Personally I think that is a good thing.

Re:"The Encrypted Internet" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20674049)

Opportunistic IPSec FTW.

Encryption (5, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674025)

Neither MPAA nor ISPs should be able to see the content we are exchanging and be in the position to filter it. Even with SSL, where the server can theoretically be accessed by anyone, the computational requirements of establishing a session will choke the filters. Add some captchas and you are gold.

ISPs are NOT COMMON CARRIERS! (3, Insightful)

isaac (2852) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674041)

How many times must this myth bubble to the surface? ISPs ARE NOT COMMON CARRIERS (at least in the USA).

If ISPs were common carriers, there would be no 'net neutrality' debate - it'd be a settled matter.

-Isaac

Re:ISPs are NOT COMMON CARRIERS! (1)

BootNinja (743040) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674645)

Actually, I thought that was the whole point of the Net Neutrality Stink. The Telecoms wanted congress to enact legislation to allow them to create a tiered internet. As a response opponents decided to lobby for the opposite: a law that explicitly forbids such a thing.

Re:ISPs are NOT COMMON CARRIERS! (1)

isaac (2852) | more than 7 years ago | (#20675151)

Actually, I thought that was the whole point of the Net Neutrality Stink. The Telecoms wanted congress to enact legislation to allow them to create a tiered internet. As a response opponents decided to lobby for the opposite: a law that explicitly forbids such a thing.


No. The cable companies lobbied the FCC (not congress) to explicitly classify cable internet access as an "information service" not a "communications service" - which they did. Independent ISPs sued, and the US Supreme Court held that the FCC had not misclassified cable internet access, and thus cable providers were free to exclude other ISPs from their networks. Telcos then lobbied the FCC to reclassify DSL as an information service, freeing them from any semblance of a common carrier burden.

As it stands now, there is nothing but potential public outrage preventing any ISP from degrading access to sites and services that don't pay up. The lobbying effort now is to draft and pass a law requiring content-neutral carriage of a given protocol. Big internet sites (that aren't ISP) are driving this effort because they know there will be no end to the vigorish extracted by consumer isps to get through to end users. (Whoops! There goes Google's margins...)

-Isaac

So.... how can they do this? (1)

einer (459199) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674043)

This being slashdot, I figure someone out there will have an informed opinion on the technology they plan on using to perform this task. I'm particularly interested in how they plan on preventing uncooperative isp's from using this as a competative advantage.

AT&T and MPAA? (1, Informative)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674063)

I think I just shit my pants from that much suck in one title.

How hard would it be... (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674085)

...to create an ISP that specifically goes on record indicating that they won't keep logs, can't be schills for the MAFIAA, and do no content filtering whatsoever??? Wouldn't sending a subpoena to such an ISP to get the user info of an IP address be a moot point since that ISP could legally and honestly say "we don't have that info"???

Another idea... What if that ISP just acted as a proxy that you could use with your existing DSL or cable provider? What if that "proxy ISP" was foreign? Essentially, your IP traffic gets redirected and all the MAFIAA knows is a IP address at a "proxy ISP" (that doesn't keep logs...)

Re:How hard would it be... (1)

StryfeX (1046428) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674319)

They might bribe^H^H^H^H^H lobby congress-critters to pass some legislation that makes things like that a voilation of National Security or some such bullshit. Or they might poke and prod their giant guard-dog AT&T into simply dropping any traffic to or from said ISP (this is working under the assumption that AT&T controls the major pipes into and out of the US, someone please correct me if I'm wrong). Basically, they'd probably just use their money to attempt to cut it off at the perceived source. Then it would become a game of cat and mouse as a multitude of end-to-end encrypted mesh networks like TOR get set up.

--Stryfe

Re:How hard would it be... (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674535)

Understandable, but if such a "foreign proxy ISP" was in a foreign country, especially one that's "Internet friendly" (i.e. Japan, the UK, or another one of the EU countries), then that would get foreign governments involved...

You're absolutely right that the US Gov't is totally controlled by lobbyists for corporations, until a foreign government gets involved. (Then things get done...)

Re:How hard would it be... (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674559)

Too late. Every US ISP must comply with lawful court orders to intercept data of identified targets. This currently requires a subpoena and is viewed as a huge PITA by engineers.

Re:How hard would it be... (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674617)

Every US ISP must comply with lawful court orders to intercept data of identified targets. This currently requires a subpoena and is viewed as a huge PITA by engineers.

However, if what you were talking about was a foreign tunnel encryption service, such a thing could certainly work. However, if your local DSL or cable provider sees nothing by crypto packets, that might be a violation of terms of service. Perhaps what you want is a service which provides you the ability to tunnel nasty stuff in harmless-looking good stuff. IPv6 might have finally found a use after all!

Or you could set up a split tunnel: send some harmless stuff straight to the ISP, and when you want to get to stuff you don't want to be traceable, encrypt it to the far end.

Fits the pattern (4, Informative)

Creamsickle (792801) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674133)

It fits the pattern we've been seeing from them. Remember, this is the company that pillaged South Africa's economy [busrep.co.za] , rewrote its privacy policy to give itself more leniency [sfgate.com] , lobbies against net neutrality [savetheinternet.com] , and fights open-access wireless [cbronline.com] .

And don't forget, they shut down the time service too. Bastards.

The common carrier laws are dying (1, Insightful)

GnarlyDoug (1109205) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674167)

The legal ramification is that the concept of 'common carrier' is dying. Laws only mean anything if they are upheld, and the common carrier laws will not be upheld by the state and federal authorites because the federal government wants filtering and regulation of the internet.

AT&T knows this and is acting just as if those laws did not exist becuase they know that they will not be enforced against them. They aided the NSA after all. AT&T can no longer be thought of as a company in a free market. They are now effectively a governmental entity.

Re:The common carrier laws are dying (1)

GnarlyDoug (1109205) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674215)

As a followup to my own post, before people point out that ISPs are not considered common carriers in America, let me say that that makes my point. They should be considered common carriers. The fact that they aren't is silly and an indication of just how badly the government wants to filter, monitor, and control the internet.

Re:The common carrier laws are dying (1)

Urusai (865560) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674477)

So, if they abdicate common carrier status, that means I can sue them for all these felonious scam emails I keep getting. Sweet.

sellouts (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674175)

Who are the engineers building this crap? Does the MPAA just dragnet tech schools looking for programmers who can't find work? The people needed to build a mechanism for "filtering the internet" are the SAME PEOPLE who use services like IRC,FTP,BITTORRENT, and USENET to communicate with one another and exchange data. They are NOT going to create a tool that will shut down the closest thing they have to a bastion of technical discussion; usenet/irc. Yes yes yes, flame on, i know that usenet is flooded with morons lately, and some irc servers out there are no better than an AOHELL chatroom, but the fact of the matter is that good channels/groups DO still exist (I know from experience).

Okay so, lets pretend for a second that there are SOME semi-intelligent programmers out there who decide to create a database of god knows what that can be matched against some other database of some arbitrary value inside of a file sitting on some server somewhere...lets just PRETEND for a second that this hacked-together-in-a-month system is actually DEPLOYED on a live network. If it doesn't simply crash from shere-volume, it will be easily defeated by either a single re-encode, adding a watermark to the film, shifting the audio track an 1/100th of a milisecond, adjusting the contrast, or any one of a THOUSAND other things that can make one file look COMPLETELY differant that another one.

Point is:
THESE PEOPLE ARE RETARDED!

Re:sellouts (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674673)

There are lots of very smart people who work for AT&T and other companies who make stuff that can do this.

Consider the various US firms which helped make the great firewall of China - that certainly takes skill.

Now, could someone evade detection? Probably. Given the lack of detail in TFA or in TFATILT (the June source for this), the impression I got was that this was a "hey check out that user" sort of system: something which sends an alert about some squicky behavior, and then a human takes a look. It sorta scales - just like an IDS.

Can we take care of filtering spam first? (2, Insightful)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674179)

Until they can figure out how to filter spam effectively and efficiently, this is just vapor. What do they plan on doing? "Oh look a .mp3 file, lets block it" type filter? That's retarded.

FTFA:

      "...given the money and time that will be required to implement such a system..."

Indeed. Did you guys not learn anything from DRM? How about copy protection? Maybe the anti-virus arms race will jog your memory? Oh wait, I know how about 09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0? Still nothing?

There's always going to be faster gun, and you cannot "invent" a solution around that.

Re:Can we take care of filtering spam first? (1)

StryfeX (1046428) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674383)

What do they plan on doing? "Oh look a .mp3 file, lets block it" type filter? That's retarded.

Retarded, yes, but I wouldn't put it past them. Especially in a more localized environment where people can't jump ship to another carrier.

--Stryfe

What does this mean to me? (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674187)

I just last week got static IP's from AT one of the major points was an assurance from both the sales droid and the tech support guru that this class of internet access was completely unfiltered, non-port blocked, and only throttled as a whole to match my SLA of 3Mb down, 1Mb up.

Does that mean that on the day they start packet filtering my IP's I can terminate my contract without penalty because they will be in breach? (And, yes, even though it's not in writing it can be held to be a binding element of the contract - verbal agreements do carry legal weight, they're just harder to prove than written elements of the contract)

Re:What does this mean to me? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674247)

Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt.

Get it in writing (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674697)

Send the sales guy and the tech guy an email, saying "just to confirm and document our prior conversation ..."

Keep a copy.

Message to ATT (1)

York the Mysterious (556824) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674235)

ATT you want to see what will make me pay $50 a month for my Internet from the cable company? Start filtering and I'll drop your crappy $20 DSL that day.

Re:Message to ATT (1)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674545)

ATT you want to see what will make me pay $50 a month for my Internet from the cable company? Start filtering and I'll drop your crappy $20 DSL that day.
And what are you going to do when your cable monopoly does the same thing? Once A&TT gets away with it everyone else will follow.

--
AT&T: Your World. Delivered. ...To the NSA.

Re:Message to ATT (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674675)

That's the boat I'm in. It's either NSAT&T for DSL or Comcast for cable. Or AT&T Wireless (whatever the name is this week) for wireless broadband.

Where's my free-market leverage to get better service, less spying, and no filtering?

Re:Message to ATT (1)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674841)

That's the boat I'm in. It's either NSAT&T for DSL or Comcast for cable. Or AT&T Wireless (whatever the name is this week) for wireless broadband.

Where's my free-market leverage to get better service, less spying, and no filtering?
That's more choice that I have. My only option is Comcast.

Re:Message to ATT (1)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674885)

Are you sure you don't have any other choices for cell phone companies? Most all of them have data services. I'm pretty happy with Sprint's data service, although if you're in a non-EVDO area it would probably hurt like dialup.

Re:Message to ATT (2, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674563)

ATT you want to see what will make me pay $50 a month for my Internet from the cable company? Start filtering and I'll drop your crappy $20 DSL that day.

I hope you don't have this for a cable company.
http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/04/2014236 [slashdot.org]
http://torrentfreak.com/comcast-throttles-bittorrent-traffic-seeding-impossible/ [torrentfreak.com]

Over the past weeks more and more Comcast users started to notice that their BitTorrent transfers were cut off. Most users report a significant decrease in download speeds, and even worse, they are unable to seed their downloads. A nightmare for people who want to keep up a positive ratio at private trackers and for the speed of BitTorrent transfers in general.

does this mean... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20674243)

It will filter out my big nigga pussy pics?

Time to switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20674255)

Services that is, DSL reports was the best site I found last time I went looking. But that was a while ago, anyone know of a better site now?

Calling all Environmentalists (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674273)

Where are the greenies when you need them to protest?

Did it ever occur to anyone the vast processing resources content filtering will require? Processing data of any sort will require energy (not including energy to keep them cool)

Just imagine AT&T having data centers racked up with network appliances around the world. Their sole purpose; to filter content in real-time for the MPAA/RIAA.

Such a waste of resources...

profit? (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674289)

If I were AT&T I would log and record every piracy attempt that was thwarted and bill the MPAA for the service. Say $0.30 for each one?

Re:profit? (1)

Kesch (943326) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674363)

They should charge a percentage of the financial losses they are preventing. At a modest 1%, that works out to $7.50 per mp3.

Going back to 2.4k dialup (2, Funny)

Nonillion (266505) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674311)

God I'm getting so fucking tired of this shit. It won't be long till the RIAA and MPAA will sue you just because you have a broadband connection. They'll simply claim that 'because you have broadband, you have the ability to pirate our works'. The record and movie industry need to shut the fuck up and quit forcing telcos to spy on us, the government does enough of that as it is. In any case, telcos need to loose their 'common carrier status' and be liable to lawsuits if they intend to do this.

Re:Going back to 2.4k dialup (1)

pokerdad (1124121) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674583)

It won't be long till the RIAA and MPAA will sue you just because you have a broadband connection.

Change the words "sue" to "levy" and "broadband connection" to "writable media" and you've basically described the situation in Canada.

Re:Going back to 2.4k dialup (1)

amber_of_luxor (770360) | more than 7 years ago | (#20675109)

>Change the words "sue" to "levy" and "broadband connection" to "writable media" and you've basically described the situation in Canada

That is also the case in the US.

The only music on the 100+ DVDs I've burned this year was stuff I arranged and performed myself. Score and lyrics are in the public domain. Nonetheless the RIAA gets to collect a royalty on those DVDs to pay some crappy artist whose garbage is used as a music break on the current top 40 commercials station.

Amber

Another point (1)

allthefish (1158249) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674321)

I think there's a really important point here that we're missing. Now that AT&T has admitted that they have the ability to filter content, and have plans to implement it in the future, what's to stop them and other ISPs from taking it a step further and filtering out "immoral" content such as pornography, or even to head even farther down the slippery slope and enter into the political game? Net neutrality is a huge issue on more than one front.

What I'm more worried about... (2, Interesting)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674369)

I'm not so much worried about AT&T filtering their customers' traffic... I'm not one of them, and there are often enough other choices. The problem is that this is only true if they're not filtering all the traffic that flows through their backbone, much like the recent NSA todo. If your ISP has traffic that passes through AT&T's network (or heck, uses their infrastructure), are they therefore going to be filtered as well?

Re:What I'm more worried about... (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674751)

ISPs only carry traffic either to or from someone who pays them.

AT&T carries traffic from its customers to other ISPs, and AT&T carries traffic from other ISPs to its customers.

A bunch of ISPs are themselves customers of AT&T. This is true of any of the big players - nobody carries anything for free: "peering" is what happens when two ISPs agree that metering their back and forth traffic isn't worth the cost of doing so.

Re:What I'm more worried about... (1)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674947)

Well, it's assumed that when you're peering the balance of traffic is roughly equal, so if they were charging each other for it, they'd be paying the other roughly the same thing, so there's no point in billing it out.

Re:What I'm more worried about... (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20675125)

You occasionally get cases where it's not that the balance of traffic is equal, but that the value of the traffic is equal: consider the Level3 vs. Cogent battle a year or so ago - L3 eventually had to give up and re-peer Cogent, because L3's users complained louder than Cogent's.

Wait a second! (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674445)

Ok, am I reading this right? Encrypting day-to-day traffic is going to soon be the new norm? Seriously, in the arms race between ISP's and networks the ISP's can't win. All that will happen is the networks will be more sophisticated, use better encryption, etc, etc. ISP's should instead focus on going after the big fish instead of trying to make it impossible/cumbersome for people to transmit certain information. I hope AT&T is smart enough to realize this. . .

Dire Straits said it right. (1)

Neanderthal Ninny (1153369) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674541)

The music group "Dire Straits" in their song "Money for Nothing" is right. ATT will make money doing nothing except tattle on the mostly legitimate people who use torrents and other P2P sharing information. http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/dire_straits/money_for_nothing.html [oldielyrics.com] Note: I didn't write the lyrics. Please contact Dire Straits direct about the lyrics.

Good luck... (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674797)

Good luck with that, MPAA and interested ISPs... Trying to control the flow of information of the internet is so easy, that nothing at all could go wrong!

Re:Good luck... (1)

Deuxsonic (828456) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674937)

SSSHH!!!!!!!! Don't spoil their dreams/hallucinations!

Oh yea? History says otherwise... (4, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 7 years ago | (#20674985)

So lets see what will happen. People will start encrypting their connections. Then presumably AT&T will block or degrade encrypted connections ( thus causing security issues ). Now, queue stenography. TCP/Noise in images, audio and video clips. With a strong cipher encrypted data is mathematically indistinguishable from noise unless you have the key. Lets see their filters distinguish between an audio stream recorded using a noisy microphone and a stream containing an encrypted stream overlay. I'm sure their servers won't have any problem whatsoever trying to do image analysis on every single webcam simultaneously. Then you can proceed to trying to distinguish a noisy video from one with encrypted data embedded in it. Really, AT&T and pals, here is a message for you. The great firewall of China fails at censoring the net, and that one is run by the fucking government. You seriously think you can do better ( worse) than the PRC and still make a profit? Good fucking luck.

Common Carrier status? (1)

AetherBurner (670629) | more than 7 years ago | (#20675001)

I thought that Common Carrier status means that you are an unbiased transport of content. If AT&T is going to selectively filter content based on someones whim, then wouldn't that be a violation of Common Carrier status let alone the Net Neutrality issue. But wait, AT&T is in the back pocket of the NSA so why not in the back pocket of the MPAA, RIAA, and anyone else that gets cozy with the Southern Boys Club and throws a few simoleons their way.

Does This Mean...This Can of Worms (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20675051)

Does this mean that AT&T will now become personally responsible for every infringing packet that does slip through? And what happens when they block legal content?

This can of worms, which I totally bet was opened without consulting with their engineering and programming staff first, is as ugly as it can possibly get.

Fuck AT&T.. Fuck Freedom... Fuck America. (3, Insightful)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20675127)

What in the hell is going on. The sad thing is.. IT WILL happen and you wont be able to do a dam fucking thing because that is how America works.

I for one, welcome our regular censoring, anti american corporate overlords.

The system is broken, and the country is dead.
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