Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

AT&T Denies Censorship, Won't Change Contract

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the trust-us-we're-good-guys dept.

Censorship 170

Vox writes "As we discussed here a few days back, AT&T's Terms of Service has very broad language giving them the right to terminate the account of any AT&T Internet service customer who criticizes the company. Ars Technica notes that such broad language is not unusual in ISPs' terms of service, and that AT&T told them they won't be changing the contract. A company spokesman said it's not a big deal because they have no intent to censor criticism. AT&T claims to respect its subscribers' right to voice their opinions and says that the contract is aimed at stopping the exploitation of children, and other tangible wrongs. As the article notes, taking the company on faith after the spying scandal is asking maybe a little too much."

cancel ×

170 comments

Ok (5, Funny)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826029)

As the article notes, taking the company on faith after the spying scandal is asking maybe a little too much.
Fine then: AT&T sucks.

Time to play the waiting game.

Re:Ok (3, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826119)

A company spokesman said it's not a big deal because they have no intent to censor criticism.

Oh, well okay then, why didn't they say so? Hell, we should give the government the right to censor too, as long as they _say_ they have no intent to do it...I mean, governments and big corporations never lie to the populace, right?

/sarcasm

Re:Ok (2, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826575)

My UK ISP Demon has had a clause like this for ages

http://www.demon.net/helpdesk/producthelp/aup/thusaup/ [demon.net]
Demon cannot tolerate any behaviour by customers which negatively impacts upon its own equipment or network, or upon the use by other customers of the Internet, or which damages Demon's standing in the wider Internet community.

It's a bit broad, like most consumer contracts - essentially they can stop you being a customer if you piss them off. But as far as I know they use it to get read of spammers, scammers and so on, not to get rid of people who criticize them.

I'm very happy wirh Demon. But I think Laurence Godfrey is a nutter [cyber-rights.org]

Re:Ok (-1, Redundant)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#20828111)

A company spokesman said it's not a big deal because they have no intent to censor criticism. well all right then /sarcasm

Hey, libertarians! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826125)

Guess what, you insufferable nincompoops? Our government is itself the product of a market system. Cities like New York, London, and San Francisco are successful precisely *because* of their enormous governments--they compete for capital, talent, and prestige against cities with small, ineffectual governments that are unable to effectively lure and corral said capital, talent, and prestige. And as goes the city, so go city-states and nations: Somalia, being a libertarian paradise, is a rather unpleasant place to live for non-ideologues. Somalians, those who can, vote with their feet and leave.

Now go suckle Ayn Rand's rotten tits some more and leave the rest of us alone, you stupid fucking Paultards.

Today then tomorrow (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826155)

If you don't intend to act on the terms of a contract, then why are those terms in that contract?

Maybe current AT&T management has no intention of terminating accounts for criticism of the company, but what about the new managers who will be running things tomorrow? Your promises of "we won't do that" have no binding power whatsoever over the other people who will inherit the power of that contract tomorrow. (not to mention that they don't have any legal binding power over you, today).

Sorry, but that just isn't good enough.

Re:Ok (2, Insightful)

SargentDU (1161355) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826157)

But you have to be a customer for them to cut you off.

Re:Ok (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826251)

Every month I give AT&T $39.99 + taxes, and every month they give me access to the Internet.

Troll? What the hell? (0, Flamebait)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826167)

Either the moderator didn't read the summary or they failed to get the joke.

Re:Troll? What the hell? (0)

winkydink (650484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826301)

You think the moderators read the summaries before putting them on the front page? You must be new here.

Re:Troll? What the hell? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826415)

You think the moderators read the summaries before putting them on the front page?
Compare the linked Firehose version of the summary [slashdot.org] to the front page version.

Re:Ok (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826413)

and they're shitty to work for. my opinion only. i don't work for them now. but yes I am ac'ing this.

Clause not needed (5, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826033)

If all they want to do is assert their right to shut down exploitative sites & users, wouldn't clauses A (violation of Acceptable Use Policy) and B (violation of law/regulation/tariff/etc.) be enough, without clause C (make AT&T look bad)?

Tor like oatmeals! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826037)

Tor like oatmeals!

Oatmeals like Tor! (-1, Offtopic)

cez (539085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826559)

Oatmeals like Tor!

open container law (5, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826051)

Translation:

Even though we can, we won't bust you or censor you... unless we want to, then we have a contract to point at. PLUS, if Uncle Sugar sends in the FBI to snoop you, we can point to the contract that YOU signed, saying we could. So we're indemnified.

Don't worry, we'll never use that option! (4, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826133)

"Hey, what's this about owing you my first-born child?"

"Oh, that's standard contract language. Don't worry about it. We won't exercise it, we just make sure we have the option to."

"Oh, okay, then."

5 years later....

"We've come for Billy."

"What do you mean?"

"We have a contract saying you'd give us your firstborn as an apprentice. You signed it."

"But you said you'd never use that clause!"

"New management. I don't know what you're complaining about. You signed it without duress, and initialed the clause indicating you'd read and understood it."

"Mommy?"

"Sorry, honey, you have to go away with the nice Sith Lord. I'll text you every day, I promise."

Re:Don't worry, we'll never use that option! (3, Insightful)

pokerdad (1124121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826385)

New management. I don't know what you're complaining about. You signed it without duress, and initialed the clause indicating you'd read and understood it.

Sounds like several rental agreements I've had over the years. When moving in I ask the landlord to make note of a dozen or more minor flaws with the apartment. The landlord either outright refuses (saying, we would never ding you for something that small), or says they'll do it but doesn't, then when I am trying to get my damage deposit back years later and am now dealing with a different person I lose most or all of the deposit because there is no documentation that says these little problems pre-date me.

Re:Don't worry, we'll never use that option! (1)

cez (539085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826679)

Poor mans patent that shit next time:

Take pictures of all the dings and what not, maybe type up a little something for your landlord to sign indicating that he was aware of this damage prior to your moving in...even if he won't sign something let him know what you are doing, put those pictures / papers in an envelope and mail it to yourself your first day of occupation...then don't open the envelope until necessary, ie until infront of a judge (small claims court), but let whoever is trying to screw you know you have it. The envelope will be signed and dated at least via the post-office, even if your slumlord won't sign something.


Not too much work for a few hundred bucks of savings...

Re:Don't worry, we'll never use that option! (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827245)

The whole mailing to yourself thing is a big myth. It has no legal standing. You can easily fake a postmark, or mail yourself an unsealed envelope and put what you want to in later. Get the landlord to sign, or find another lease- those are the only ways to cover yourself.

Re:Don't worry, we'll never use that option! (2, Funny)

Known Nutter (988758) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827803)

But, but... they did it on Law & Order!

Re:Don't worry, we'll never use that option! (1)

Black Copter Control (464012) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827883)

You can easily fake a postmark, or mail yourself an unsealed envelope and put what you want to in later. If you put the stamp over the sealed side of the envelope such that you can't open the envelope without disturbing the postmark, then you have more reasonable proof that that was the date that it was sent.

Remember: civil cases are about balance of the probabilities, not beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes, it's better to have the landlord's signature, but don't roll over and play dead just because (s)he doesn't want to play ball.

Re:Don't worry, we'll never use that option! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827953)

The whole mailing to yourself thing is a big myth. It has no legal standing. You can easily fake a postmark

You can easily fake a contract, too. Are you saying contracts then that have no legal standing?

Re:Don't worry, we'll never use that option! (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826683)

Take pictures of everything and otherwise document the problems, date it all, and stick it somewhere safe. Show the landlord a copy (not the original) if he give you flak when you move out. You should also give a copy to your insurance company when you move in.

Re:Don't worry, we'll never use that option! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826753)

Try making a video tape the first time you enter the apartment.

Re:Don't worry, we'll never use that option! (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826525)

"Lawyers quibbles can get you killed." -- Doctor Who, "The Invasion of Time" Part 1 [imdb.com]

Re:open container law (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826269)

heh, that's what contracts have come down to today: they all make you agree to ridiculous terms that they don't ever actually intend to enforce against you, except as leverage.

It's not just in telecom. It's in credit cards too: "We can raise your interest rates whenever we feel like it, even on 'fixed' rates. We normally won't, but what they heck, you might annoy us some day."

Or my apartment. "You have to notify us 60 days in advance for a moveout." "Hey, here's my notice today, 60 days in advance." "Oh, we're not ready, come back tomorrow." "If I come back tomorrow, penalities attach." "Oh, don't worry about that silly thing, that's just in case."

Re:open container law (2, Interesting)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827307)

run a line thru 90% of the contract. inital the line. then sign. And remember: SMILE!

Re:open container law (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826599)

That's the thing. It doesn't matter what they say they intend to do, it may even be true. But I would expect that eventually, they'll decide to take advantage of the wording. That's why it's the right thing to demand, obvious potential abuses that they are unwilling to close should basically scream that they intend to use the clase to that end.

i like (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826057)

I'm a fan of the deny and keep option open tactic maybe I'll start subscribing to ATT so I can support creative uses of contracts and the law.

Sounds good... (1)

franoculator (714656) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826059)

Maybe this can be used to break out of that BS 2-year contract most carriers insist on, without paying nasty early termination fee.

Le Sigh (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826067)

AT&T claims to respect its subscribers' right to voice their opinions and says that the contract is aimed at stopping the exploitation of children, and other tangible wrongs.
Then put that specific language into the contract.
The only reason to use broad statements is so that you have wiggle room later on.

Lawyers love vague contract terms... Judges not so much.

Re:Le Sigh (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826179)

Why do that when they can "Won't somebody PLEAASE think of the children?!" and put critics on the spot as pedo supporters?

Remember them terrerists... if you're not with us....

Re:Le Sigh (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826639)

Yeah guys, it's so simple. Maybe you need a refresher course. It's all pedoists and terrorphiles these days.

Re:Le Sigh (1)

kcornia (152859) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827585)

yeah first thing I thought when I read that was What the hell does disparaging AT&T have to do with harming children.

Then it occurred to me. If children see you disparaging AT&T, they may not grow up to be consumers of AT&T products, so that would be pre-emptively harmful to the children.

It's genius really.

save the children, etc (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826069)

AT&T claims to respect its subscribers' right to voice their opinions and says that the contract is aimed at stopping the exploitation of children, and other tangible wrongs
Like drowning puppies, using drugs/alcohol while pregnant, and foiling terrorists. Those are all good reasons, right?

Actually, to me it sounds like an unenforceable clause of the contract that they put in there to be able to strong arm someone even though it may not stand up in court.

whaaat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826079)

contract is aimed at stopping the exploitation of children
ok, what has airing an opinion (which might not be in favor of the demigods) have to do with the exploitation of children? this is like saying GWB is behind all the bad in this world

Re:whaaat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826265)

contract is aimed at stopping the exploitation of children

ok, what has airing an opinion (which might not be in favor of the demigods) have to do with the exploitation of children?

I think I understand. When the FBI wants AT&T's complicity in privacy invasion, ostensibly to think of the fscking children, AT&T can squelch some of the blowback.

SOP? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826087)

AT&T's Terms of Service has very broad language giving them the right to terminate the account of any AT&T Internet service customer who criticizes the company

Pretty standard at government agencies like AT&T, right?

AT&T sucks (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826095)

AT&T sucks

The ACLU won the first round of this legal challenge in August 2006, when U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled the NSA program violates the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in her ACLU v. NSA decision. "It was never the intent of the Framers to give the President such unfettered control," Taylor wrote in the decision, "particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights."

http://www.aclu.org/safefree/nsaspying/index.html [aclu.org]

"AT&T has been named a defendant in a class action lawsuit that claims the telecommunications company illegally cooperated with the National Security Agency's secret eavesdropping program.

A Los Angeles Times article dated Dec. 26 quoted an unnamed source as saying the NSA has a "direct hookup" into an AT&T database that stores information about all domestic phone calls, including how long they lasted.

http://news.com.com/AT38T+sued+over+NSA+spy+program/2100-1028_3-6033501.html [com.com]

"Have you turned over information or opened up your networks to the NSA without being compelled by law?"

Company Response
Adelphia Communications Declined comment
AOL Time Warner No [1]
AT&T Declined comment
BellSouth Communications No
Cable & Wireless* No response
Cablevision Systems No
CenturyTel No
Charter Communications No [1]
Cingular Wireless No [2]
Citizens Communications No response
Cogent Communications* No [1]
Comcast No
Cox Communications No
EarthLink No
Global Crossing* Inconclusive
Google Declined comment
Level 3* No response
Microsoft No [3]
NTT Communications* Inconclusive [4]
Qwest Communications No [2]
SAVVIS Communications* No response
Sprint Nextel No [2]
T-Mobile USA No [2]
United Online No response
Verizon Communications Inconclusive [5]
XO Communications* No [1]
Yahoo Declined comment

* = Not a company contacted by Rep. John Conyers.
[1] The answer did not explicitly address NSA but said that compliance happens only if required by law.
[2] Provided by a source with knowledge of what this company is telling Conyers. In the case of Sprint Nextel, the source was familiar with Nextel's operations.
[3] As part of an answer to a closely related question for a different survey.
[4] The response was "NTT Communications respects the privacy rights of our customers and complies fully with law enforcement requests as permitted and required by law."
[5] The response was "Verizon complies with applicable laws and does not comment on law enforcement or national security matters."

http://news.com.com/Some+companies+helped+the+NSA%2C+but+which/2100-1028_3-6035305.html [com.com]

Additional info from the EFF

http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/faq.php [eff.org]

Conversely... (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826115)

> As the article notes, taking the company on faith after the spying scandal is asking maybe a little too much."

...but as the contract notes, accusing AT&T of being run by bunch of wannabe censors, spies, and just plain all-round fucknozzled douchebags, is saying maybe a little too muc-
NO CARRIER

Re:Conversely... (5, Funny)

Vendetta (85883) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826849)

That was nice of AT&T to click submit for you.

Online Bill of rights? (5, Interesting)

porkrind (314254) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826123)

So are we going to have to draft a bill of rights and ask all online providers, from ISP's to online service companies, to sign it? Is that even remotely possible?

Here's a stab at some of the rights I'd like to see protected:

1. You may not restrict the right to access, download, store, manage, edit, and publish my data on the platform and web site of my choosing. Period.
2. You may not terminate my account for political statements, inappropriate language, statements of sexual nature, religious commentary, or statements critical of your service, with exceptions for specific laws, eg. hate speech, where they apply

Hmm... that's a good start. Any others to add?

-John Mark

Re:Online Bill of rights? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826365)

3. porkrind is a filthy nigger
4. porkrind smokes the pole
5. eat shit douchebag
6. fart
7. poop
8. pee
9. anus

Count me in on this one (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826419)

Something like that was needed

Re:Online Bill of rights? (1)

porkrind (314254) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826583)

Ok, I don't ordinarily reply to myself, but here's a wiki where I've put this, for now:

http://www.bytesfree.org/wiki/index.php/Bill_of_Rights [bytesfree.org]

-John Mark

Re:Online Bill of rights? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826699)

10. you're still a filthy nigger
11. cuntmonkey
12. sausage
13. anal-leakage
14. turtles
15. ass mountain

Re:Online Bill of rights? (1)

taskiss (94652) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826969)

I have an addition: You have the right to refuse to contract AT&T for services.

That about does it, don't you think?

It's AT&T's network. If you want to use it, follow their rules. If instead you want 100% freedom from those oppressive rules, why, just don't use their network. Screw them! Let your wallet do your talking for you!

I don't mind it when your wallet speaks for you 'cause it doesn't have that whiny, high pitched tone.

Re:Online Bill of rights? (1)

porkrind (314254) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827193)

No, that's not about it - especially since AT&T is just one of many doing the same crap. Yes, AT&T is bad, but that's not the only problem - the greater problem is that there are a ton of online companies perfectly willing to crap all over our rights.

Sure, you can tell AT&T to shove off, but that doesn't solve the greater problem.

-John Mark

Re:Online Bill of rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827143)

I'd prefer it read:

"We won't prematurely terminate your account without your consent unless (1) you don't pay for the service we provide as per our payment policy terms or (2) a judge deems it necessary that your account with us be terminated."

I think that solves the majority of problems.

Let's see just how far AT&T wants to take it.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826137)

Let everybody criticize AT&T, and let AT&T cancel all the critic's accounts...AT&T's service sucks, anyway, so they would be doing me a favor by terminating my account.

Re:Let's see just how far AT&T wants to take i (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826481)

Let everybody criticize AT&T, and let AT&T cancel all the critic's accounts...AT&T's service sucks, anyway, so they would be doing me a favor by terminating my account.

Thanks - now every Anonymous Coward with an ATT contract is wondering why their phones don't work.

Re:Let's see just how far AT&T wants to take i (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826645)

What, you think I want to go to Comcast?

(Okay, not so true in my area-- I'm on TDS and have options-- but I know of plenty of places, even in the town where I live, where feasible services are offered only by two or three companies.)

Re:Let's see just how far AT&T wants to take i (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826961)

the thing is last mile communication service is a natural monopoly, some areas have a duopoloy for historical reasons and some have forced unbundling at various levels. Often there is little if any choice and even where there is choice of some kind you often find that the monopolist has some way to make your life a misery (for example I have a friend here in the UK who has been waiting months for BT to install a phone line, sure once he gets that line he can choose who to buy his calls and internet from but he has to get the thing first).

Last miles (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 6 years ago | (#20828077)

No. It isnt a monopoly. I live in a very rural area served by bellsouth and it is most definitely NOT a monopoly. We have no cable or other wireless service aside from cellular - the only "last mile" into my house is a phone line. I have DSL. And that DSL is NOT a monopoly.

There are at least 4 differnt providers in my area offering DSL. I pay my provider a fairly high sixty a month for 3Mbps service. I intentionally avoid the phone company because the phone company sucks. I have no "land line" service - I have DSL on an otherwise "dead" phone line. I don't pay Bellsouth or AT&T for anything; I have no contract with them. Bellsouth was required to unbundle this service as part of its AT&T merger settlement with the FTC. I have no idea if this applies throughout the US, but it most definitely applies to Bellsouth customers.

Where have I heard that before... (1)

WickedLogic (314155) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826165)

We won't hurt you, but all the same please surrender your guns. ...
Well, we'll protect you. ...
What do you mean who will protect you against us,... surrender your guns, now.

There are alternatives! (2, Interesting)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826203)

I stopped supporting AT&T after the NSA fiasco. I refuse to buy anything of theirs again (sadly, this also means no iPhone, assuming that the hackers can't unlock it with 1.1.1 firmware).

There are alternatives that aren't evil. For instance, for hosting: my service [thoughtbug.com] (shameless plug) -- unless it's illegal or interferes with other clients, I won't touch it. :)

Re:There are alternatives! (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826279)

unless it's illegal or interferes with other clients, I won't touch it. :)

So you only host stuff that's either illegal or interferes with other clients? Great business model you have, no?

-b.

Re:There are alternatives! (1)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826443)

Yeah, English is a bit silly like that, no? What I meant to say is that unless I get a subpoena (or DMCA request) or if your Web site slows down the server, I probably won't touch it. (if it's something that's definitely illegal, like pirated music or applications, and I see it before the copyright owners do, I'll take it down)

Hope that helps!

Re:There are alternatives! (1)

deftcoder (1090261) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827291)

Wouldn't enforcing things like bandwidth, disk, and cpu quotas make more sense than "if you're abusing our service, we'll cut it"?

Re:There are alternatives! (1)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827501)

One implies the other, but I probably do need to be clearer on that. Thank you for the suggestion. :)

Re:There are alternatives! (1)

Deagol (323173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826595)

I like the hosting philosophy of NearlyFreeSpeech.net [nearlyfreespeech.net] . So far as I'm aware, they rank pretty well in the "not evil" department. I am a customer of theirs -- a happy one, at that (especially cool pricing model) -- but I'm always on the look-out for cheap, ethical hosting services to recommend to friends/family/clients. Thanks for the link.

Re:There are alternatives! (1)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827153)

Thank you, that is very much appreciated. :) There don't seem to be all that many places that are ethical these days.

then nixxing it won't be a problem (3, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826229)

A company spokesman said it's not a big deal because they have no intent to censor criticism. AT&T claims to respect its subscribers' right to voice their opinions

Then it won't be a problem removing it, now will it? Especially since existing tort law covers libel?

Any time someone says "oh, we don't intend to use that clause, ignore it", the correct answer is "I don't intend to take a verbal assurance you won't exercise a contractually granted right."

Any time someone insists on guaranteeing something off the record or verbally instead of in the contract you are negotiating there is a reason, especially when their statements contradict terms in the contract.

I hope someone steps up and fights this.... (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826237)

..... Because while others have similar policies, AT&T's new spin on this will encourage these companies to get more aggressive about minimizing (if not eliminating) negativity about their product/service. That would really suck if that became true.

And AT&T calls checkmate (4, Insightful)

QCompson (675963) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826307)

Blanket censorship excuse: "We're uhh... stopping the exploitation of children!"

Blanket surveillance excuse: "We're uhh... stopping the exploitation of children!"

Blanket excuse for a telecommunication company/government entity to do anything and everything it wants: "We're uhh... stopping the exploitation of children!"

Why has this method been so effective for so long? When will the madness end?

Re:And AT&T calls checkmate (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826557)

Blanket censorship excuse: "We're uhh... stopping the exploitation of children!"
Blanket surveillance excuse: "We're uhh... stopping the exploitation of children!"
Blanket excuse for a telecommunication company/government entity to do anything and everything it wants: "We're uhh... stopping the exploitation of children!"
Why has this method been so effective for so long? When will the madness end?


Sounds like you have something to hide, or else you wouldn't be complaining.

Re:And AT&T calls checkmate (3, Insightful)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826643)

When will the madness end?
When everyone quits having children. I'm doing my part!

Re:And AT&T calls checkmate (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827749)

When all the children are dead, of course!

Somewhat hypocritical... (1)

PJ1216 (1063738) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826311)

They claim its so they can stop sites that would be damaging to their name if they were associated with it. An example (while I don't know if they'd use the rule in this scenario) is if they were involved in hosting or providing services to a racial-hate site, they could cancel or suspend that account. However, no matter what way they slice it, its still censorship. Maybe they don't intend to use it to censor badmouthing the company, but its still censorship. If its not illegal, but they don't allow it, its censorship. If this was really their intention, it makes sense for them to leave the clause open like this. HOWEVER, they should add an additional clause that exempts badmouthing the company from that previous clause. They should realize that if it caused such a clamor, they should have dealt with it to assuage people's fears about possibly getting their account canceled if they complain about their service. Instead, they give the equivalent of "we don't want to or intend to do that... but we still can." I can understand keeping the clause open, however, I don't understand at least shutting down that loophole if they really never intend to use it. Its as of everybody said, "well if you don't intend to use it as such, put in a clause saying you never will," and them saying no.

So not only can that clause only be used for censorship (whether or not its about company criticism), but they also won't outright deny that they can use it to shutdown criticism. So, they're hypocritical AND only giving lip service to real fears and questions.

Actually, it's great (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826313)

I'm locked-in to a 2-year contract, and my AT&T service (formerly Cingular) quality has decreased since AT&T bought them. This clause gives me a way to get out of my contract. Hopefully this can count as my first official criticism. Oh, and the fact that they keep sending me text messages offering me additional services. Cingular didn't do THAT.

Truuuust me (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826317)

*slithers away*

We claim a mile, but we'll only use an inch... (3, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826343)

I detest the transparent prevarications of companies (and governments and ...) that claim a mile, but say "don't worry, we won't use more than an inch." I can understand that given the fuzziness of legal boundaries a prudent corporation might want to give himself a little extra wiggle-room, but my limited experience is that whatever is claimed will, eventually, be used... all of it.

There's a wonderful scene in a novel by John D. MacDonald's book Condominium in which a an agent pushes a legal paper at a condominium buyer saying it is "just a formality." A week later, the buyer is in the office trying to get action on various construction problems and glitches. The air conditioner won't work, for example. The agent says "You can handle that yourself; contact the manufacturer." After several serious complaints have been brushed aside, the buyer starts mumbling about withholding payments and legal action, and the agent tells him that he's basically signed all his rights away.

"But you said that was just a formality," says the buyer.

"That's right," says the agent, "it is a formal, binding, legal agreement."

Re:We claim a mile, but we'll only use an inch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827049)

I'll bet you got goosebumps when you typed in that last sentence, didn't you?

Re:We claim a mile, but we'll only use an inch... (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 6 years ago | (#20828007)

There's a wonderful scene in a novel by John D. MacDonald's book Condominium
Is John D. MacDonald's book a good author?

Exploitation of children? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826355)

So to prevent that they prohibit you from talking bad about the company? Huh?

Re:Exploitation of children? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20826565)

Obviously anyone who would dare to criticize AT&T must be a child rapist. And a terrorist. And an all-around bad person.

What about Binding Arbitration (3, Interesting)

torkus (1133985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826451)

Everyone's caught up in this clause on the contract but no one even things twice about the binding arbitration clause in almost every contract (including this one).

They usually read something like "you agree never to sue us. Ever. If you're ever unhappy you agree to use binding arbitration (usually with a clause requiring phone, email, or mail settlement and barring in-person) with our chosen arbitration company xyz" ATT actually makes brief mention of small claims court but that's about it.

Now, i know our court systems are horribly abused but it seems that a legitimate use for them "They billed my checking account for 12 months of service when it never worked according to their advertised bla bla bla" can never actually come to fruition.

As for the clause everyone's complaining about: Would you let someone run a website/blog bashing your hosting company ON one of their servers? If you hate ATT enough that you'd publicly bash them, why would you use their servers to do it?

I think this whole topic is a waste of time.

person a "I want to be able to post my website and say whatever i want"
person b "well i know ISP XYZ censors what you post"
person a "Oh, ok. I won't go there then. There's only 14 million other hosting copmanies and plenty of ISP's"

Re:What about Binding Arbitration (2, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826609)

person a "Oh, ok. I won't go there then. There's only 14 million other hosting copmanies and plenty of ISP's"

Yeah, I was thinking of switching back to dialup too. There just isn't that much need for me to have websites display in less than a couple of minutes, and online gaming was kind of overrated.

Of course, my dialup would be going over AT&T's phonelines, so I suppose they could send some guy out with the wirecutters if they don't like what I have to say.

Twisty little passages (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826477)

By including this clause in their contract, are they not themselves tending to damage the reputation of AT&T? Do they not provide Internet service to themselves? If so, then they should "immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of [their] Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by" themselves.

Wow, that was easy. I'm all set up to follow in Oolon Coluphid's footsteps.

AT&T *IS* the Goverment. (2, Interesting)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826511)

Far as I'm concerned with the feds allowing their latest merger and AT&T's willingness to turn over any data they ask for.. AT&T might as well be the government. Good ol' SovietBell. heh

If you call me names... (1, Redundant)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826513)

... I would not do business with you either.

[...] giving them the right to terminate the account of any AT&T Internet service customer who criticizes the company.

Contrary to the popular opinion, discrimination is not illegal, unless it is on the basis of race, religion, health, or age (with some ifs and buts).

Discriminating on the basis of expression of disagreable opinions (other than religious) is perfectly legal. And it better remain so...

Re:If you call me names... (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827081)

Discriminating on the basis of expression of disagreable opinions (other than religious) is perfectly legal.

Not with government support for that discrimination, it's not. Freedom of Speech shouldn't just mean that you can't be thrown in jail for speaking your mind; indirect infringements like giving eminent domain rights, government-sanctioned monopolies, etc. to censors ought to apply too. If your business requires drawing lines from point A to point Z whether the owners of points B through Y like it or not, you'd better be prepared to accept a few compromises on what you can do with those lines.

Re:If you call me names... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827111)

Totally agree - all businesses have the right to hang a "We reserve the right to refuse service" sign!
Go into a local taco shop, complain loudly about how bad their food is and order a taco. You are probably hurting their business - 10 people with a total of $100 may walk out the door - they have every right to refuse service and ask you to leave (your alternative with a business is to not do business with them - that is all, unless they broke the law and hurt you somehow).
Now log on to AT&T and complain loudly because they will not give you your ex-girlfriend's new phone number - hhhmmm - they're just saying what is true with businesses generally (when you are trying to hurt them) - that is not an option for you, your option is to stop engaging in business with them.

Won't somebody please... (1)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826517)

... think of the children?!?!

AT&T censored criticism of WHin "Blue Room" (1)

CallFinalClass (801589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826597)

Google "blue room" and "censorship."

What if there is an uproar? (1)

mediis (952323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826601)

Since they reserve the right to censor the customers, how would we know there is an uproar? Look, people have been complaining about the current administration since day one, but you don't see it in the media because they put the protesters in "protest zones" and away from the cameras. Out of site, out of mind. This would do the same thing. The problem would be far worse than reported / indicated. And as a result people will perceive there really isn't a problem.

So (1)

dontspitconfetti (1153473) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826667)

So that roughly translates to when you criticize AT&T you are exploiting children. One of their employees has 2 kids! And you are affecting their daddy's performance and that indirectly exploits his children. You know AT&T would spin that in some insane direction.

Same with all ISP's (1)

u0berdev (1038434) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826951)

I've read my ISP's (Comcast) TOA, as well as AT&T's and a few others. Yes actually read through them all. Freakin long. But they all say pretty much the same thing. You can't do this, you can't do that. A lot of the terms are unreasonable from a consumer perspective. However, they all have the same thing in common: most ISP's don't strictly enforce their TOA's right off the bat. They only use them as legal leverage to deny or refuse you service when they find you are causing a problem (bandwidth, viruses, etc.) or they don't like you.

Lesson? Don't stand out of the crowd on your neighborhood's internet traffic reports and don't piss your ISP off. At any point in time, they can LEGALLY cut you off.

I'm not saying I agree with it...

If you dont like it.,.. (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827015)

.. why give them money? Stupid is as stupid does.

Re:If you dont like it.,.. (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827089)

And before you all scream there is no other option.

1) ADSL
2) Cable
3) Wireless
4) Mobile
5) Work
6) Paper and pen
7) email
8) VoIP
9) IM
10) None of the above
11) All of the above
12) ????
13) Other POTs
14) ISDN

Contract Loophole? (1)

englishb (1165253) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827073)

I don't want to be repetitive here, but I signed up for Cingular cell phone service years ago. I was quite unhappy when AT&T bought them, because I dislike AT&T with a passion. If I do not agree to their new terms of service, is this actually a loophole I can use to get out of my contract without paying an early termination fee, or is it just wishful thinking?

Re:Contract Loophole? (1)

enos (627034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827419)

people have done this, yes. Not really a loophole, they have to let you out because they can't force you into a new contract, and they don't want to keep you under the old one.

But think about the children! (1)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827109)

AT&T claims to respect its subscribers' right to voice their opinions and says that the contract is aimed at stopping the exploitation of children, and other tangible wrongs. As the article notes, taking the company on faith after the spying scandal is asking maybe a little too much."

Not to belittle the problems with children being exploited, I feel much better when companies tell me to "think about the children."

Hell, if Comcast only said this is why they are terminating Internet accounts then I would never have started the blog [blogspot.com] in the first place ;-)

On second thought, Yeah, I probably would have anyway ;-)

"(c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries."

A company doesn't put this sort of thing into the TOS / AUP unless they intend to use it. I'm waiting for the first person who is critical of the company and AT&T takes it badly.

I guess AT&T wants their fair share. AT&T users may want to think twice about commenting if they value their internet service."

Just make sure there is another service in their area otherwise it's back to dial up you go. Been there, done that. Trust me... it sucks

Contract law (1)

Gadzinka (256729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827175)

One of my first lessons in capitalism after the change of the political system in Poland was the lesson about contracts:

  • if you trust each other, you don't need a written contract
  • if one of the parties insists on having a written contract, there's no place for "trust"; you must treat every single word and punctuation in a contract as something that will be brought in the court one day -- otherwise it wouldn't be there.

Want to terminate accounts of paedophiles and abusers? Place the wording about them in contract, but don't fucking pretend that "criticism of the AT&T and its affiliates" doesn't mean what my handicaped knowledge of English says it means.

No really, trust us.

Robert

Another KDawson non-issue spectacular! (1)

superbus1929 (1069292) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827517)

Why the fuck was this posted? They NEED broad language! EVERYONE has broad language in regards to what they can and can't do with email accounts; it's called "CYA", short for "Cover your ass".

This is yet another non issue that KDawson has turned into a rant against THE MAN!!!!1111! Why is he still posting articles?

Most ISPs??? (1)

Hokie06 (986634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827649)

Don't most large ISPs say something like that in their agreements.

Not saying it is right or anything, but singling out one ISP doesn't seem to really cover the scope of the issue.

d0ick (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20827821)

Net Neutrality (1)

senor_burt (515819) | more than 6 years ago | (#20827973)

Is this something that would change if there was sensible net neutrality policy and laws? This is obviously an infringement of free speech - although while people may have the right to free speech, they may not necessarily be guaranteed a specific platform to do so. In any case it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Slander and libel are one thing, and there's legal recourse for that, but censorship is quite another. IANAL - but it would be worth considering how the rules of the FCC could be interpreted for this to be legal.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...