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98 comments

Pearl Jam webcast was censored by AT+T (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20938149)

Re:Pearl Jam webcast was censored by AT+T (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938357)

Nono, it wasn't censorship - can't you see, they said it was an accidunt. Geez, some people are just looking for problems so they can't point and shout...

Big Company == Arm of the Government (0)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939485)

When a company gets big enough, it is a de facto government department. Telecoms, water companies, autombile manufacturers, etc, etc, etc. As time goes by, these companies get so big that the government takes notice. Pork and subsidies of all kinds are offered and accepted. Bribes and Lobbyists are put in place to keep the government sweet. Anyone who thinks that "free enterprise" and "free markets" mean freedom from governments is living in a dogmatic fantasy land.

Big Corporations are as much a part of our governments as our education departments, tax offices and police forces. The only real differences is that they are officially "off the books" independent entities that can do just about whatever they please. In practice, this means that the government can engage in domestic espionage, blacklisting, censorship, propaganda, religious indoctrination, or just about anything else it's officially prohibited from doing by outsourcing the operations to its far flung, but still intimate branches.

AT&T is probably the worlds best example of an off the books government department. Both in terms of the operations they conduct, and also how well everyone has managed to swallow their whole "private industry" cover story.

Re:Big Company == Arm of the Government (3, Insightful)

halber_mensch (851834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20940395)

I would argue the inverse - that the government is now an arm of the large corporations. They ahve the money and power to influence government for their own desires, and often bigwigs of large corporate enterprises are found in the high ranking slots of government. How free is this free society, really, when the people that are making the decisions at the top level are most concerned with the interests of large corporations that desire above all else a guarantee to the money and subservience of the populace?

Re:Big Company == Arm of the Government (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949787)

The problem seems to be that despite the best efforts of the founders to limit the power of aristocracy, the power of the dollar is more important than ever in getting elected. Without money, it is nearly impossible to compete in the current election process.

Unfortunately, the only option politicians are pushing (surprise, surprise) is for taxpayers to foot the bill by using taxpayer money to finance campaigns and banning other sources. What we really need to do is limit campaign *spending*. Politicians should be permitted to make public appearances, and appear in televised debates, but they should be prohibited from spending millions on television and newspaper advertising.. perhaps prohibited from running ads at all. It may seem contrary to the notion of free speech to prohibit these things, but I would argue that creating a level playing field (as much as possible) is more important than allowing money to play such a central role in campaigning. Websites, public appearances, and any form of debate, televised or otherwise, should be the limit of campaigns. If you can't do an effective job of expressing your views in those three formats, you just aren't an effective communicator.

Re:Big Company == Arm of the Government (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 6 years ago | (#20951195)

What's to stop them from paying shills/astroturfers to upload viral marketing-like stuff to Youtube or to react in forums?

Re:Big Company == Arm of the Government (1)

halber_mensch (851834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20952303)

Yeah, you make a good point - controlling the spread of information is just not possible, talk to the RIAA and MPAA about how well they've been able to control the dissemination of media for example. I think we can all agree that the problem is that the dollar trumps the voter. I also think that as long as American citizens that seek wealth do so in the halls of government, they will be fueling the power of the corporate entities that are more than happy to pay their blood money. From this, we can eliminate money from the equation by either removing the human element from government (insane, plus the replacement computer would be built, programmed, and maintained by a human party that can still be corrupted), forbidding government officials from owning assets at any time during or following their term in office (unfeasible), or by jailing government officials and high ranking officers in corporations for soft money or quid pro quo violations found and voiding the actions of such exchanges. Perhaps as an incentive to keep the politicians in line, we add that assets of a corporation and politician found guilty of such actions would be seized by the government and absorbed into the treasury. That might make these jackoffs a little more careful about how they behave, and provide a real incentive for politicians to self-police. The political capital to be gained by blowing the whistle outweighs the rewards and risks of taking a cookie from the jar.

If AT&T only censored niggers, that'd be OK. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20938153)

Screw you, Pastor Niemöller!

AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938163)

However, they still reserve the right to terminate your service if you break a law or violate their TOS.

Seems to me like they don't respect your right to free speech at all. If they can shut you down for any violation of law (perhaps something as innocuous as downloading images that violate your community's standards or post intent to do harm to the President in an online forum), then they respect the law, not your rights.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1, Insightful)

The_Mystic_For_Real (766020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938283)

What point is the law if there are no consequences of breaking it? AT&T respects the right to free speech, downloading kiddie porn and conspiring/threatening to kill the President are ACTIONS.

In fact they may not be going far enough, shutting down accounts is a temporary nuisance, if they see criminal activity, they have an obligation to society to bring it to the government's attention. Look, if you don't like the laws, get out there on the soap box, and fight to change them. Until then you will have to abide by the laws our elected officials have enacted.

AT&T can respect the right to free speech without granting immunity from the law, and this statement reflects that.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (4, Funny)

lordofthechia (598872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938323)

kiddie porn and conspiring/threatening to kill the President
Whoa there, somewhere an FBI monitoring program is going ape shit...

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (0)

andy_t_roo (912592) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938951)

i somehow suspect that any sensabil filter has slashdot on the "omg, not again, ignore it" list, but then again a) look how many people are here, statistally someone here is up to no good, and b) this is the gov. we're talking about ....

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

boredhacker (1103107) | more than 6 years ago | (#20941117)

kiddie porn and conspiring/threatening to kill the President

Whoa there, somewhere an FBI monitoring program is going ape shit...

Yeah, the message poster should have checked the "Post Anonymously" box ;-)

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20942059)

Here in Springfield, where Gail Simpson is an alderman [springfield.il.us], Klutzo the Clown was arrested for child porn [sj-r.com].

It's true- Springfield, IL lost out on the bid to host the premier to the Simpsons movie because it's wierder than the cartoon Springfield!

-mcgrew [kuro5hin.org]

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (5, Insightful)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938333)

Actually, their "job" as an ISP is to provide you service. Nothing more, nothing less. Even regarding kiddie porn, as despicable as that is, it is not their job to censor or even monitor that activity.

I know it's a novel concept in our brave new world, but a service provider should just provide service, and leave the monitoring/policing to separate entities whose responsibilities cover those aspects. Otherwise, we all might as well get chipped with GPS locators and audio/video recorders and route everything to your nearest friendly community overlord.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938381)

I know it's a novel concept in our brave new world, but a service provider should just provide service, and leave the monitoring/policing to separate entities whose responsibilities cover those aspects. Otherwise, we all might as well get chipped with GPS locators and audio/video recorders and route everything to your nearest friendly community overlord.
Yeah, people would never, ever [nseries.com] allow that.

Seriously, if you want to have a private conversation, ban cell phones from the premises - even turned-off phones are a liability.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

The_Mystic_For_Real (766020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938413)

their "job" as an ISP is to provide you service. Nothing more, nothing less.

Then whose job is it to provide security? Just because some of us don't want to pay for proprietary software licenses, does not mean we need to leave the vast portion of the population defenseless against the scammers and worse that lurk on the net. We all know about these dangers, we laugh when we get 419 spam, others aren't so knowledgeable.

The solution can't just be education, if we tried that we would have 6 billion IT pros and no experts in anything else. Nor can we argue that they should avoid computers, they are integrated into every aspect of life. Therefore, if we do not enforce the laws, what is to become of the people that can't protect themselves?

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (3, Funny)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938469)

as usual, in a way, Darwin has the correct answer. Evolve or die. Learn to protect yourself or don't. Learn to not leave a system open likely by getting a virus and asking people how to deal with it, or formatting, or etc, or googling the answer, etc. Nobody's born a techie, but some people are too stubborn to evolve/learn. Usually we call them Jehova's Witnesses or bible thumpers.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (3, Interesting)

The_Mystic_For_Real (766020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938563)

Nobody's born a techie, but some people are too stubborn to evolve/learn. Usually we call them Jehova's Witnesses or bible thumpers.

So that's the solution? Let most human beings fall victim to the predatory few? What about people who don't have access to technological education? What about people whose only offense was having a credit card?

Furthermore, what about the artists and programmers whose only crime was releasing their work to the public?

Look I don't think corporations should act as police, as the mods and responders seem to think I do, what I am saying is that while we all have benefited from the Internet being a modern day Wild West, we are benefiting off the backs of the rest of humanity.

What if it was the physically strong exploiting the mentally strong, as opposed to the other way around?

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938729)

Hey morally people don't like lots of things. There are laws to protect in extreme situations but no, people should not be given excessively retarded laws so specific because then it really IS the problem with "protect the children" laws. This is a waste of taxpayer money and politician time.

As a result if such laws if someone is a sexual predator or even accused in error, their life and those of all of their family members is effectively brought to a lower standard of life.

So that's the solution? Let most human beings fall victim to the predatory few? What about people who don't have access to technological education? What about people whose only offense was having a credit card?
Where are you trying to go with this? People without access to technological education often don't have technological access. If people wanted to learn, they'd ask someone who knows. I am not some computer genius but it isn't hard to find someone else who is and ASK them. If you don't want to ask, you don't want to learn. Idealistic morals won't do jack for reality sessions.

  Moot point. People already do fall to the predatory few in millions of different fashions. You can try to claim idealistic societies all you want but in every situation "predatory" which can simply mean "superior" situations basically succeed.

The physically strong wouldn't be able to exploit the mentally strong indefinitely, those situations incite rebellion. Look at dictatorships aka tibet or china for examples of that. Tanks may kill people but they don't stop conscious thought.

Can you explain to me how you say we're benefiting off the backs of humanity specific to the internet? I don't really get where you're going with that. either.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20940241)

as usual, in a way, Darwin has the correct answer.

Somewhere, an evangelical conservative just died.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20943957)

Thats all it takes? Cool. Time to bring out the basic

10 Print "as usual, in a way, Darwin has the correct answer."
20 GOTO 10

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

trianglman (1024223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20955153)

The problem is that the "evolutionary imperative" in these instances are much more strong on the rest of the population than it is on the people who leave their machines open. They just suffer from a slow computer, and often blame the manufacturer/OS/etc. not themselves. We however have to deal with spam reaching critical mass, DDoS, etc.

Unfortunately, if you want to leave it to "evolution", as far as "evolve or die" goes, we are the ones that will need to do it, not the unlearned.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#20963471)

Umm since when was it our job to hold hands for the poor? Teaching people about computers without them being willing I would compare to giving money to the hobo who wants to buy liquor. Sounds nice, makes you feel good and idealistic, but isn't going to change the situation next time around. Give a man a fish vs teach a man to fish argument. It's like expecting people to watch an annoying flash advertisement on the internet. Lets not play "shift the blame away from those whose fault it actually is".

This is not like "protecting the children" when people get screwed. This is "leaving the sick for dead" aka shutting off net access to zombie'd pc's and/or DDOS sources and letting them know whats going on. Last I checked, there were ISP's that do that. Sure, blame the OS, whose fault is it for running windows or unsecured windows or any other unsecured os again? I run windows on occasion due to lack of linux knowledge in certain situations but overall I'd prefer more control of my computer than less. You think there might be something wrong with default windows security settings until and through Vista? I wonder why that might be, hmm? Kinda interesting how that doesn't happen by default in a Linux OS.

So you get a virus, you lose some serious stuff (maybe research papers for college, credit card data, important resumes, work critical stuff), but you still gotta use that computer. I don't think anyone in their right mind would just return that computer unless they are choosing their own ignorance. Or pay with more money, people learn very fast from financial punishments for bad decisions. There's no lack of ignorance between willful ignorance and blind ignorance, and neither deserve sympathy. Even if you started with rumors from churchgoers of "you haven't gone to church enough lately, thats why you got a virus" might be completely ass-backwards but at least its more than people just accepting something at face value and doing nothing about it. Sometimes, even through garbage like that, the light clicks on and someone says "that doesn't sound right, maybe I should go research/think for myself/use my brain" and voila, evolution.

As directly said, if they don't evolve, they die. It is indeed not our job to hold people's hands through all parts of lives. We grow em up through when they can't take care of themselves, but not all years of their lives, just the first 12-24 years depending on religion/family situation/poverty level/etc. All years is not our job. No. Computer skills are not one of those "necessary to breathe/eat/fulfill the lowest level of the hierarchy of needs" skills.

Also the "we" who deal with DDOS attacks are not the same folks who deal with spam. Spam affects consumers more than system admin/webhosts, and DDOS vice versa. If you are a webhost and have problems filtering spam then again it is your fault that you haven't come up with better spam filters, etc.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939021)

Then whose job is it to provide security?

I've never seen an ISP do this yet, what makes you think they're actually going to start doing this anytime in the future?

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#20940979)

I've never seen an ISP do this yet, what makes you think they're actually going to start doing this anytime in the future?

He was probably referring to doing stuff like blocking port 25 to silence spam bots, or blocking the Windows file sharing ports to prevent worms. Many ISPs do this and similar stuff.

I would also argue that there are things that any responsible system administrator (particularly at an ISP) should do as a public service to the rest of the internet. For example, if your edge router allows packets to leave your network that have source addresses that are obviously forged (source addresses in IP ranges you don't own for example), then you aren't doing the internet community any favors. If your mail server allows obvious viruses that could be blocked with one line of configuration into your users mailboxes then you aren't doing them any favors either....

You'll never be able to stop everything nor should you try. But there are very simple steps you can take to protect your users from some threats -- and to protect the internet as a whole. I'm not even in the ISP business anymore, but I've taken steps to prevent trojans, worms and the like from leaving my network, should I be unlucky enough to have one of my machines infected. I also sit in the NTP pool project. It's a little bit of "give back" to the internet community and reminds me of the old days before it became all about the corporations.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (2)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939641)

You might not be allowed to send bombs by the U.S. Postal Service, but the fact doesn't allow U.S. Postal to go through all your mail and check for bombs. In fact there is a constitutional barrier against exactly that. Why should be Kiddie Porn and Terrorism any different?

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#20942907)

Then whose job is it to provide security?

Police's. You know, the people who get paid to "serve and protect" ? Possibly army's or secret service's, if we are talking about Threats with capital T.

Just because some of us don't want to pay for proprietary software licenses, does not mean we need to leave the vast portion of the population defenseless against the scammers and worse that lurk on the net. We all know about these dangers, we laugh when we get 419 spam, others aren't so knowledgeable.

I am defended against scammers by my brains. Admittedly each upgrade to the paranoidic center has cost me dearly, thought, but after I put it to "default distrust" mode the problems have lessened considerably.

And just because you don't want to pay for proprietary software licenses in no way means that I should be monitored and policed by my ISP.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938701)

Actually, their "job" as an ISP is to provide you service.
It is the duty of each and every American to report illegal and immoral activities when we find it. The law might not demand it, but we as a society should ask no less of ourselves.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20938815)

It may be the duty of Americans to report unjust activities, but illegal and immoral? Sorry. Legality and morality are the domain of the ruling class - a class that the Americans fought and won a war against. We live in a nation of laws and a nation of religions that tell us the most basic things in life are illegal. The ability to share a work of art with others. The ability to engage in sexual contact before marriage if we choose. In many states and cities, there are even laws against when and where you can cross a street.

Frankly, if Americans minded their own business more, I think America would be a much better place.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938949)

Just to clarify (as I can't tell if you understood the point or not). The illegal AND immoral meant that both qualifiers had to be met before an Americans duty comes into play. If, for instance, you saw someone doing something legal but moral, it wouldn't be your duty to report it. On the other hand if you say someone doing something immoral but legal it also wouldn't be your duty to report it.

Frankly, if Americans minded their own business more, I think America would be a much better place.
Yes, that's why I imagine victims of rape, murder and thievery are so glad to have everyone look the other way while they're attacked and screaming to occupied buildings for help.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20942093)

They did say MORE and not EVERY DAMN TIME. If somebody is being hurt or threatened with harm, that is VERY different than say somebody showing a picture of his 17 5/8 yr old ex g/f to his buddy from back when he was 18

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Khaed (544779) | more than 6 years ago | (#20943413)

I don't disagree with you, but AT&T, or anyone else who doesn't know the girl, would have a hard damn time telling if a girl was 17 5/8 or 18. 16/17/18/19, hard to be sure.

But a 12 year old? 10? 8? Easy to tell she's not 18.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20943035)

Actually, I believe it only your duty to report illegal activities.

Your example victims are all cases of illegal activities, morality plays no part there.

I believe you actually meant it's your "legal and moral duty to report illegal activities". I'm sure your "immoral" aspect was meant to qualify truly "must report" illegal activities from such travesties of justice such as going 66 in a 65 speed zone or crossing in the middle of a deserted street, which are also both illegal in many areas.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948167)

I'm sure your "immoral" aspect was meant to qualify truly "must report" illegal activities from such travesties of justice such as going 66 in a 65 speed zone or crossing in the middle of a deserted street, which are also both illegal in many areas.
Exactly. Or if you lived in Nazi Germany having to report someone as hiding a jew, which while illegal would have been the moral thing to do.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 6 years ago | (#20943357)

So what's the difference between "unjust" and "immoral?" Who gets to decide? That's why we have laws.

And that follows... how? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938807)

Otherwise, we all might as well get chipped with GPS locators and audio/video recorders and route everything to your nearest friendly community overlord.
And that follows on from your original statement... how? Merging monitoring/enforcement into ISPs doesn't plunge you directly into a surveillance state.

Re:And that follows... how? (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20943119)

Because if private (government sponsored monopoly) companies start doing monitoring and policing as an extension of the government, you're about half a step from a police state.

Re:And that follows... how? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20943487)

You stress the government connection too much. They don't sponsor them to police/monitor the net. To suggest otherwise would be to suggest a conspiracy without benefit. The government doesn't gain anything if they secretly finance the ISPs to monitor traffic. There may be political benefit if it were done publicly, because ISPs are in the prime position to conduct effective monitoring/policing.

you're about half a step from a police state.
Yeah. One moment your eyes are open, people vote to throw out government and (indirectly) legislation if they don't like them, people are relatively anonymous, very little public surveillance, etc, and ISPs are just introducing policies to police the internet, you blink, and suddenly there's mandatory GPS implants, surveillance cameras/microphones on every pole, and a large, expensive, unpopular infrastructure that collates all the movements of hundreds of millions of people. It's a baby step really.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Sourcehack (1152375) | more than 6 years ago | (#20941911)

Otherwise, we all might as well get chipped with GPS locators and audio/video recorders and route everything to your nearest friendly community overlord.


Is that not what our cell phones are for?

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

trianglman (1024223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20955339)

The only problem with this theory is the fact that it is inconsequential for ISPs to catch a number of internet based illegal activities. More complicated for things like kiddie porn would require a breach of privacy (I don't believe they should be able to actively view what we are doing online), but pretty simple for things like DDoS or spam do not. In these instances, it is very easy to prevent them without not infringing on privacy, by watching the volume of traffic and sudden fluctuations or blocking some ports, which some already do. In these instances, I don't believe that ISPs are out of bounds when they protect us from them. I, personally, draw the line at examining the contents of the packets, where it would infringe on my privacy. To draw a real world comparison, it is not illegal to read something written on the envelope (i.e. packet headers) but they are not allowed to randomly open the envelopes and read the contents.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960707)

I'd say the entire packet is the envelope. Opening it just for header info can be just as revealing as reading the contents. It's one of the reasons why early on everyone equated email with postcards, and encrypted email with envelopes. Encryption doesn't guarantee privacy as all of it can be broken, but it at least makes it non-trivial if someone wants to casually read it. That would be very similar to reading mail in envelopes.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983675)

Um, not quite...at least not in the USA

Kiddie porn is a federal offense. PERIOD.

In fact, it is itself a federal offense to aid or abet the comission of a federal offense, and that includes turning a blind eye after you see it.

So, as long as AT&T looks the other way, they can let it go. But the minute someone at AT&T knows you're distributing kiddie porn, technically, they are now ON NOTICE that you are using their services to perpetuate a federal offense, which in turn puts THEM on the hook for aiding & abetting if they don't shut you down.

Turning a blind eye only works if you haven't seen it yet.

Of course, PROVING it is something else...but that's for another day.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938339)

The border between action and speech isn't always so clear-cut.

If downloading speech is an unprotected "action", then free speech ain't worth much, since the govt can just forbid people from performing the "action" of viewing it. (there's no way you can view content from the internet without first downloading it)

Furthermore, to "speak" on the internet you need to perform any number of "actions", such as "push the on-button on your computer" and "upload the content to a webserver", if they can restrict these /actions/ your rigth to free speech ain't worth much in practice.

Now, free speech *ain't* absolute, and there's some sorts of speech such as threaths and kiddieporn which isn't protected. That's unproblematic. The only "problem" here is where to draw the line.

Current law prevents a guy I know from publishing nude pictures of -HIMSELF- as a 10-year-old on the beach. I'm not sure that should really be considered "kiddieporn". Nor am I certain that it's sane to do, as we currently do, and forbid also stuff that is fictious. The law says "are or appear to be", so you can be convicted for kiddie-porn if you make porn with someone who is actually legal (=16 in many jurisdictions) but which *appear* to be younger.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939067)

In other words, the freedom to speak ain't worth jack if there is no freedom to hear.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20940629)

Yeah. And freedom to -distribute- what you say, in however way is apropriate to the message. Be it by soundwaves or ip-packets.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (2, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938371)

The OP's point is the law is supposed to be enfoced by the courts, not by AT&T.

When a law starts being enforced by private companies, the citizen no longer has any recourse to violate a law that they feel unjust.

The ability to violate unjust laws and get them overruled through jury nullification is one of the cornerstones of the legal system - despite what some judges nowadays instruct their jurys.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939175)

I'm not sure what country YOU live in, but here, in Fantasy-Land-USA, we are innocent until proven guilty. It is not for corporate entities to determine guilt. It may be for them to turn over evidence of any given suspicious activity, but it is not for them to cast judgment upon their customers by cutting off their access.

Seems as though every time we turn around, there's another example of how corporate entities are attempting to step in and become government and/or police.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#20942235)

In fact they may not be going far enough, shutting down accounts is a temporary nuisance, if they see criminal activity, they have an obligation to society to bring it to the government's attention.
I wonder how coincidental it is that the President is at this very moment asking for retroactive immunity from any prosecution, criminal or civil, for AT&T that might arise out of their cooperation in the wiretapping of American citizens without warrants. Just the fact that Bush thinks this immunity is so important is a de facto admission that what they are currently doing is illegal.

The window of opportunity for Americans to teach the government and their corporate masters who's boss is rapidly closing.

Many of you may be too young to realize this, but in a free democracy, we're supposed to be the ones in charge. It's supposed to be us telling the government what they can and cannot do, not the other way around. Corporations are supposed to be serving our needs, not the other way around. Who among us believes that the regular channels give us any say at all in what the government and corporations do?

It's time to show a little resistance, I think.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20944499)

What point is the law if there are no consequences of breaking it? AT&T respects the right to free speech, downloading kiddie porn and conspiring/threatening to kill the President are ACTIONS.


So you're saying that AT&T has the right to charge you with a crime, judge you guilty, and sentence you to punishment...as long as it's restricted to withdrawal of personal (or corporate) communication?

Sorry, that's not the way "justice" is done. "Justice" means that lawyers fight it out in court.

I say "justice", because I don't believe that justice has a whole bunch to do with what the court system produces. It's still better than what you're proposing.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938309)

More precisely, for "conduct that AT&T believes violates blah blah blah". Oh, and note "any law". Hmm, how about Chinese laws? Or Iranian? Or some really God awful repressive third world dictatorship, like Australia. So in effect, they can shut you down for any reason that they want; they just have 'believee' that you may have broken a law somewhere in the world.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (3, Insightful)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938329)

Actually AT&T have the right to conduct business in anyway they see fit and we (as the consumer) have the right to choose any ISP, it's the latter that keeps the former in check.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938805)

So I expect the complaints about its ToS to die down the day its regional monopolies are rescinded.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939141)

Actually AT&T have the right to conduct business in anyway they see fit and we (as the consumer) have the right to choose any ISP, it's the latter that keeps the former in check.

This only works when there is an option. In many places in the US there is only one consumer provider of the internet. At that point, there is no check... It should take all of 30 seconds to find a few thousand examples on google.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20947651)

Then please do back up your "point" with an example. I keep asking proponents of this mythical "only one ISP town" to tell me where it is, but noone has be able to yet. *I* for one have never lived there, and strangely enough it seems that every proponent silly meme seems to have not lived there either.

Oninoshiko

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949475)

Then please do back up your "point" with an example. I keep asking proponents of this mythical "only one ISP town" to tell me where it is, but noone has be able to yet. *I* for one have never lived there, and strangely enough it seems that every proponent silly meme seems to have not lived there either.

OK. Many places in Houston, Texas. In my apartment complex, cable is "in house" and has no internet. AT&T DSL is the only option. In the strip of hotels near the Bush Airport, DSL is not available due to distance from the CO. A large segment of office buildings in Uptown Houston can not get any consumer class, and C-Beyond / Logix is the only option. And when you get out of town in to "small town texas" it gets worse. Surfside Texas has one ISP, which is wireless, and run by the mayor. Crystal Beach, and Zapata Texas have similar Wireless only options.

If you want more, do your own damn research.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939851)

A single person choosing another ISP does nothing to check business practices. Speaking out and publicly persuading large numbers of people to do so may be somewhat effective in some cases. Politically mobilizing and passing legislation and enforcement to protect everyone from undesirable business practices is the real check in a democracy.

Re:AT&T respects your right to free speech (1)

silentben (1119141) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939947)

However, they still reserve the right to terminate your service if you break a law or violate their TOS.

Seems to me like they don't respect your right to free speech at all. If they can shut you down for any violation of law (perhaps something as innocuous as downloading images that violate your community's standards or post intent to do harm to the President in an online forum), then they respect the law, not your rights.


It seems like you are confusing right to free speech with some weird belief that you have the freedom to do whatever you want. You can argue free speech to defend your right against censorship of things you read or say via their services, but if you are convicted of breaking a local, state, or federal law, that is an entirely different matter. Technically you have the right to search for kiddie porn and threaten the President online as much as you want and AT&T can't stifle THAT due to free speech. But if you actually go to prison for downloading kiddie porn or threatening the President, they would be within their rights to refuse to continue to serve you as a customer - that is free enterprise - as is your ability to them go sign up for similar services from some other provider when they DO cut you off.

Translation of statement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20939965)

"Please forgive us for the censorship and stuff. Our bad, really. Oh... by the way, since we are such great buddies now, can you please write your congressman and have them give us that immunity for participating in that illegal domestic spying program? That would be great! Thanks a bunch, really.

Oh, by the way, there will be a slight increase in your monthly payment: we need it to finance the removal of a few more competitors. Take care!"

Capitulation == Confirmation (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938167)

Whether you believed that threat to be real or overblown, the new language would seem to put the issue to rest."

Given the fact that AT&T seemed to think it necessary to "put the issue to rest", I'd say the threat was quite real.

Re:Capitulation == Confirmation (5, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938251)

No, the 'threat' that was 'quite real' was to AT&T's profits. They realized that people would not shut up about this and it would impact their bottom line. They felt the need to put it to rest because it was a non-issue and there was no reason to keep the wording as it was.

All I have to say to that is: Yay internet!

Before the internet, disseminating knowledge about a company's possible practices (as opposed to their real ones) was very tough. Now, in a matter of hours, millions of people can be informed of a looming issue and speak out about it. This sounds like 'down the with corporations!' speech, but it's not. It's good for them as well, as they can now judge their customers attitude in hours as well, instead of implementing a disastrous policy and finding out a year later that it has ruined their business.

Re:Capitulation == Confirmation (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 6 years ago | (#20951455)

Now, in a matter of hours, millions of people can be informed of a looming issue and speak out about it
They call this "inboxer rebellion" at Snopes and it goes lost in a mass of false positives, deafness to crying wolf and utterly stupid Youtube comments plus a dozen Fw:Fw:Fw:Fw:Fw:'s from 200 aggregated Hotmail addresses.

AT&T are a bunch of cowards. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20938171)

Nice? hardly.
Ingrates? certainly.
Genteel? no.
Gargantuan? of course.
Evil? affirmative.
Ribald? well, at parties.
Stupid? goes without saying.

My formal apology to Slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20938181)

I'm sorry for all the stupid posts I keep making. Yes, they're all me.

Please don't mod me down anymore. I promise I'll reform. Thank you.

Anonymous J. Coward

Re:My formal apology to Slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20938291)

Haha disregard that, I suck cocks.

Re:My formal apology to Slashdot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20940007)

Please ignore my previous instruction to disregard grandparent message. Sure, cocks are delicious, but that doesn't mean I can't make a positive contribution to the discussions here at Slashdot.

Let's get started on a new foot, Slashdot. Please stop modding me down, just because I post off-topic or happen to enjoy slurping on the engorged members of sexy males. Please show mercy.

Thank you.

Paging Lily Tomlin (1, Informative)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938205)

AT&T this evening has issued new terms of use language that it hopes will cap a firestorm of protest over the original version that appeared to give the company freedom to pull the plug on anyone who had the temerity to criticize AT&T or its affiliates.

This is a clever marketing ploy, but honestly, they don't care. They don't have to. They're the phone company.

Re:Paging Lily Tomlin (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938331)

They may be the phone company, but around here for internet service, they have some pretty stiff competition, (my ISP which is the cable company, another Cable Modem provider that's strangely not a cable company, dish which i know sucks but is there). The ISP I'm with kicks their but for speed/price, so that's who I chose, but the fact is that unlike most areas for phone service, there are options for your ISP.

So they do have to care a little. Granted, cable companies are no gems when it comes to customer service, but as expected, their ISP customer service is far better than their television customer service, as they have competition in that market.

But... but... what about the children?!? (3, Funny)

QCompson (675963) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938287)

Hmf. I thought they put that language in their Terms of Service so they could do their part to stop the exploitation of children?

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/10/02/1728217 [slashdot.org]

Now the only reasonable question is: does AT&T support child exploitation?

Re:But... but... what about the children?!? (2, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938429)

No, they had the TOS, not to stop the exploitation of children, but to stop people criticizing AT&T's exploitation of children. As it turns out, they provide the phone service to the most heinous, blatant, and vile exploitation of children on the planet...Disneyland .

Re:But... but... what about the children?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20942311)

Er, which Disneyland? If I remember correctly, Southern California's Verizon's territory.

Re:But... but... what about the children?!? (3, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938433)

Now the only reasonable question is: does AT&T support child exploitation?
No. They still have language in there explicitly says that they can cut your account for illegal activity. When referring to 'child exploitation', they probably mean 'kiddie pr0n,' which in the U.S. and other Western industrial nations is, at least the last time I checked, illegal.

Re:But... but... what about the children?!? (1)

Random832 (694525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939405)

Now the only reasonable question is: does AT&T support child exploitation?
No. They still have language in there explicitly says that they can cut your account for illegal activity.
But that was there before! (which made the claim that the language people was complaining about was for that purpose a bit hard to believe)

This is a very Good Thing. (5, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938363)

This is a very Good Thing. I actually believe AT&T when they say "We feel that the clarifying language better reflects our actual long-held policy." There's a very poisonous process that occurs when unwritten de facto policies are formalized. Very often, the de facto policies are fairly reasonable.

When the policy is written down and the lawyers get involved, they fence in a square mile in order to protect an acre. This is done because they don't think anyone will notice and there doesn't seem to be any real cost involved, so it's just prudent to include a fat safety margin around the "real" policy. As long as the same personnel continue to administer the real policy there's no big problem. The damage comes a few years later when new people come in and see no reason not to use the whole square mile.

Consumer pushback makes it clear that there is a cost involved in being overprotective, and that there is a benefit involved in having a written policy that simply spells out, rather than overextends, the real policy intention.

Re:This is a very Good Thing. (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 6 years ago | (#20942519)

When the policy is written down and the lawyers get involved, they fence in a square mile in order to protect an acre.

You can blame the lawyers if you want, but someone had to instruct them that they wanted to add the right to pull the plug on anyone or anything that "tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries."

That could not have been added by accidental over-lawyering, IMHO.

Re:This is a very Good Thing. (1)

el americano (799629) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947289)

AT&T will not terminate, disconnect or suspend service because of the views you or we express on public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns.

They didn't mention criticism of AT&T corporation, or its employees, products, and services. I'm sure that was just an oversight, like the first draft was. They knew it wasn't political speech that people were expecting to be censored.

I also find the contrast of their new statement amusing. We respect our customers, buuuuuut we will immediately terminate or suspend your account for violation of any of the following broad categories...

I spoke with my cellular customer service recently - who are apparently aware that they are even more untouchable than wired telephone providers - and their friendly and sympathetic statements did very little to distract me from the fact that they were being intransigent bastards who would admit no errors and provide no remedy. At least with my AT&T service, I can go to the Public Utilities Commision. If my cellphone carrier steals hundreds of dollars in new, unannounced fees, I'm SOL. Anyway, my point is that AT&Ts meaningless text about their attitude towards their customers won't do you any good after they disconnect you, but we're sorry we couldn't help you, and I hope you have a nice day. *click*

I'll write the FCC letter anyway, and write it off (mentally - it's not actually a write off).

Improving the Analogy (1)

tjjfv (994025) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947529)

When the policy is written down and the lawyers get involved, they fence in a square mile in order to protect an acre. This is done because they don't think anyone will notice and there doesn't seem to be any real cost involved, so it's just prudent to include a fat safety margin around the "real" policy.
A better analogy (IMO) would be to fence in a acre (protection for a greater area) to protect a square mile.

Also, I'm assuming you meant a square-shaped acre not a square acre, as a square acre would be a 4 dimentional space, and though lawyers might try, I don't think they would succeed. ;)

Original language (3, Informative)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938401)

For those looking for the original language of the TOS, here it is from Google's cache:

5.1 Suspension/Termination. Your Service may be suspended or terminated if your payment is past due and such condition continues un-remedied for thirty (30) days. In addition, AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines, or (c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.
It has been changed to:

5.1 Suspension/Termination. AT&T respects freedom of expression and believes it is a foundation of our free society to express differing points of view. AT&T will not terminate, disconnect or suspend service because of the views you or we express on public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns. However, AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; or (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines.. Your Service may be suspended or terminated if your payment is past due and such condition continues un-remedied for thirty (30) days. Termination or suspension by AT&T of Service also constitutes termination or suspension (as applicable) of your license to use any Software. AT&T may also terminate or suspend your Service if you provide false or inaccurate information that is required for the provision of Service or is necessary to allow AT&T to bill you for Service.
It's the original section 5.1(c) that caused the whole uproar:

AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes... ...tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.

Change in Tone only; not policy (1)

Tungbo (183321) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939535)

From your quote:

"(b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines"

It would be simple for them to adopt a guideline of "not defaming any organizatin with out massive proof or criminal conviction". Then, they can still shut down anyone who criticize at&t actions as defamation. The only check is public outcry such as these.

Now if only they'd apologize for being the FBI/NSA's lap dog...

Re:Original language (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20944723)

So they're still claiming the right to be judge, jury, and executioner. Low justice only, of course.

I wonder what their status is on middle justice? If they terminate your account, can they still charge you for it until the end of your contract?

And, of course, high justice is reserved to the monarch.

What the hell is wrong with this place? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20938489)

I wake up, expecting to see an anti-Microsoft hate piece on the front page, I get here and there's fucking nothing! Has this place been bought-out or what?

Bloody Microsoft, they've even bought my beloved /. bastards!

Read it carefully... (2, Interesting)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938513)

They can still terminate you for bashing AT&T:

"AT&T will not terminate, disconnect or suspend service because of the views you or we express on public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns."

If you wanted to interpret that language in the strictest sense, they've reserved the right to terminate you for expressing any views that *don't* concern public policy or politics.

Now, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but why be so specific about what they *won't* terminate you for talking about? Why not say something like "We'll terminate you if you slander or libel someone, but just expressing an opinion is fair game"?

 

Re:Read it carefully... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938565)

Because there was an uproar about those specific things. Read the new policy before you say 'they can still terminate you for bashing', instead of just listening to the PR Rep and trying to pick apart the words.

Re:Read it carefully... (1)

iago-vL (760581) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939339)

He was actually quoting from the new policy:

AT&T respects freedom of expression and believes it is a foundation of our free society to express differing points of view. AT&T will not terminate, disconnect or suspend service because of the views you or we express on public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns.

He's right that it only says they won't terminate your account for three reasons. If you do anything else, it seems, they may terminate your account.

Re:Read it carefully... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939559)

Right, but that doesn't -mean- they can terminate you for any reason. It only states a few reasons that they won't. How about the rest of the policy?

However, AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; or (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines.. Your Service may be suspended or terminated if your payment is past due and such condition continues un-remedied for thirty (30) days. Termination or suspension by AT&T of Service also constitutes termination or suspension (as applicable) of your license to use any Software. AT&T may also terminate or suspend your Service if you provide false or inaccurate information that is required for the provision of Service or is necessary to allow AT&T to bill you for Service.


That lays down the terms under which they can terminate you, instead of just naming a few that they can't. The other bit IS PR crap and really has no reason to be in there.

Re:Read it carefully... (1)

Ravon Rodriguez (1074038) | more than 6 years ago | (#20942267)

Right, but that doesn't -mean- they can terminate you for any reason. It only states a few reasons that they won't. How about the rest of the policy?

Right, because a TOS can still be voided in a court of law if it's found to violate basic rights.

Re:Read it carefully... (1)

HUKI365 (1113395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20940105)

Because when you write a contract it is impossible to anticipate all possibilities. If they listed EVERYTHING they can ban you for, it would go on forever, or be so broad as to cover literally everything. However, by this phrase they resolve the controversial issue without causing their lawyers to bill them a couple of hundred thousand dollars by drawing up an exorbitant amount of clauses.

For now ... (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938665)

... the new language would seem to put the issue to rest.

Until next week, that is, when they silently change the TOS again.

Actually, it won't be censorship. It'll just be inexplicable packet loss. They'll be working on finding the source of the problem.

Seaside Realestate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20938697)

Now, now. That's hardly surprising, is it ? I mean, given the steady leftist trend in US society since the 1980's, and Reagan.

    No powerful entity in their right egregora would so much as dream that any encroachment on any form or expression of civil rights, or the Magna Carta, could be tolerated, let alone condoned by society. Not to mention its legitimately elected representatives and minuciously supervised institutions.

    After all, in the living, thriving, grass-roots democracy that the US ever increasingly is, popular conscience and activism would never allow it to ever really happen.

    (Yes, thank you, Dr. Delgado [google.com], I *do* want to push that lever again.)

Depends which threat you're talking about (1)

abb3w (696381) | more than 6 years ago | (#20938817)

The hypothetical threat of AT&T censoring someone for criticizing them, or the tangible threat to consumer rights from companies routinely putting in offensive to unconscionable language into boilerplate EULA/TOS contracts? Perhaps some citizen-friendly congresscritter might introduce legislation giving customers standing to sue over such offensive boilerplate, and collect damages if any term is shown in court to be unconscionable. That would compel companies to make such take-it-or-leave-it "agreements" a bit more balanced. Naahhh....

Did they move it to the Acceptable Use Policy? (1)

TimFreeman (466789) | more than 6 years ago | (#20940459)

The original article [networkworld.com] says:

...AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service ... for conduct that AT&T believes (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy...
For all I know, they just moved their censorship provisions to the Acceptable Use Policy. They don't give a URL or cryptographic checksum for it, so they could claim later that any document at all is the Acceptable Use Policy mentioned in the original contract.

It bugs me when people include unavailable documents by reference. Is there a non-evil reason to scatter the terms of the contract among several documents?

Re:Did they move it to the Acceptable Use Policy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20941743)

The same reason that software spreads across multiple different source files: modularity.

Ok, it's a start (1)

mrAgreeable (47829) | more than 6 years ago | (#20940467)

I thought their new ToS was pretty crappy, so I'm glad to see they've amended it - better still that they've actually apologized.

Now how about an apology for illegally spying on U.S. citizens?
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