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CES 2008: AT&T looking for ways to scan customers' communications for copyright violations

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 09 Jan 2008 22:17 User comments (27)

CES 2008: AT&T looking for ways to scan customers' communications for copyright violations According to Brad Stone of the New York Times, if a panel discussion at CES regarding piracy is any indication AT&T is working on developing network filtering technology that could be used to identify copyrighted content being uploaded or downloaded by subscribers to their internet service.
“What we are already doing to address piracy hasn’t been working. There’s no secret there,” said James Cicconi, senior vice president, external & legal affairs for AT&T. He added, “We recognize we are not there yet but there are a lot of promising technologies. But we are having an open discussion with a number of content companies, including NBC Universal, to try to explore various technologies that are out there.”

NBC Universal (NBCU) Chief Counsel Rick Cotton, who made headlines last year when he decried the effects of piracy on popcorn farmers after claiming piracy isn't getting its share of government attention compared to crimes like robbery and burglary, was also on the panel.

“The volume of peer-to-peer traffic online, dominated by copyrighted materials, is overwhelming. That clearly should not be an acceptable, continuing status,” he said. “The question is how we collectively collaborate to address this.”

One thing Mr. Cicconi was apparently clear about is AT&T's concern about repeating mistakes that have been made by other companies in the past. “We’ve got to figure out a friendly way to do it, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.

Source: New York Times

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27 user comments

19.1.2008 22:36

Well, there goes half their future customers and lot of their existing ones as well just for saying that they're developing it.

29.1.2008 22:57

This reminds me of George Orwell's 1984 novel.

39.1.2008 23:11

So, you want to scan my personal files that I have put on my iPhone. Some how determine that it violates copyright laws, and then slap me with a giant fine! Because I actually use the iPhone this is serious for me. I don't pirate but still, mistakes happen. And maybe my ways getting music are illegal, even though I don't use any form of p2p to get music.

49.1.2008 23:12

Glad i moved over to Road Runner about a year ago, next thing we'll hear is that they have computers listening on all AT&T conversations for keywords such as download, torrent websites, or any movie name, then send the a transcript to someone for review, and they'll say its for national security too so they can use the Patriot Bill for it. ahaha there goes me rambling =P

59.1.2008 23:13

Nothing like Big Brother looking over your shoulder.

69.1.2008 23:25

This has nothing to do with "piracy". This is about control, plain and simple.

I have written things that I have posted on the Internet. They are copyrighted, to me, as the original content creator. Now, anyone who would take that, reproduce it, or otherwise make use of it, without my express permission, is committing an act of piracy and breaking the law. As content creator and holder of the copyright, it is mine to decide who I allow to access and use my three-page diatribe on what's wrong with Final Fantasy 7.

Now, what if I choose to exercise those rights against AT&T users? Suppose there are specific users out there I want my essay blocked from. How am I going to do that?
•How is AT&T going to determine the identity of every single user, in order to confirm whether or not it's one I want blocked?
•What procedures will I be offered to verify if a violation of my copyright has occurred? And what greivance procedures are there, and how will AT&T assist me?
•Primarily, are they going to give a darn about me, a private individual copyright holder?

My suspicion is that the answers are
•They can't,
•None,
•Not on your life.

This is about cuddling up to certain major institutions, primarily the **AAs (and maybe some international equivalents). Say what you want about whether what they're doing is right or wrong, but I believe that what they're claiming here is not only unfeasible, but extremely limited.

This is about giving the **AAs et al. what they're asking for - control. Control over who can see what they own, how much it costs, how it's distributed. It's not about stopping piracy. Piracy is one very large and well-animated strawman.

710.1.2008 0:03

Due to this very thing, my company is cancelling its contract with AT&T. Losing a hundred thousand dollars a year may not hurt them, but at least there will be some cost.

As for all the whining about loss of privacy, where were these newborn privacy advocates during the Clinton Administration when Clipper and Echelon were born? That's when it started and when it was Clinton, nobody cared.

810.1.2008 0:28
AXT
Inactive

My parents use AT&T (not AT&T, SBC before they got bought out). Not after I tell them to switch providers. Which one is best I wonder?

910.1.2008 0:39

Originally posted by AXT:
My parents use AT&T (not AT&T, SBC before they got bought out). Not after I tell them to switch providers. Which one is best I wonder?
Huh? I'm confused as to what you are asking AXT.

1010.1.2008 1:12

AT&T bought out SBC is what he was sayin but yea in 5 months i'm droppping my dsl cuz i have 1 year plan with them...not that i have to much to worry about figuring i download a few backup of games here an there but mainly it sounds more like not only is the government reading my email and online traffic it looks like AT&T wants to as well. Oh well just gives me a better reason to get a faster plan...

1110.1.2008 2:08

WOW someone is about to cross that ever so thin & blurry line of personal rights! WOW!!! I understand makers of shit not wanting there shit stolen, for get about the who gets what & who makes what stealing is stealing how ever you make it right in your mind. but this is more than just putting a tag on a shirt to grab someone exiting the store this is busting in door by door to find the person who stole that shirt! This is over the line for me! MAKE it harder to take stuff but dont scan my stuff because we out smarted YOU the billion $ company! lol!

1210.1.2008 3:13

Someone's gotta write an encryption program to blow off the sniffers!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 10 Jan 2008 @ 3:17

Crafty

1310.1.2008 3:28

I was planning switching my internet access to AT&T. Nevermind, I'll look elsewhere.

1410.1.2008 8:59

i used to have comcast and switched over to AT&T once i moved since cable isnt in my new neighborhood yet. Looks like I'll be dropping them as soon as the cable comes in.

1510.1.2008 9:41
duckNrun
Inactive

Technically this is **NOT** a violation of anyone's privacy-- at least as far as AT&T doing it is concerned. Why you ask?

This may come as a surprise to you AT&T users (and non users for that matter) but a while back when these NSA spying lawsuits began AT&T changed their privacy policy and user agreement.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060622-7110.html

Quote:
On June 16 [2006], AT&T revised its privacy policy, ostensibly to harmonize it with BellSouth's as the two companies prepare for the merger that will officially make AT&T a "megagoogalopolly." Some critics, though, see the "BellSouth claim" as a smokescreen designed to cover up the fact that AT&T is actually reacting to the EFF lawsuit against it by giving the company cover to turn over data to the NSA.

What are these changes? In the revised policy, AT&T makes explicit the claim that it owns your customer calling data, which it will use for any "legitimate business interests" that it has. This is a broader and clearer assertion of the company's claims to your data, and it also comes with the caveat that AT&T will release your data in response to "legal process" (a similar clause was present in the earlier version in slightly different form). AT&T also claims the right to collect data on its customer's video viewing habits, which sets the stage for the company to track customer usage of its new U-verse IPTV service.
AT&T goes on to explain that this isn't really a change but a clarification-- meaning this is meant to show HOW they really viewed user's privacy up until then.

Quote:
The company says that the changes to the policy's language haven't resulted in any changes; they were just made to clarify the existing policy. Michael Coe, a company spokesman, says that "We are not changing how we treat customer information. We updated our policy to make the language clearer and easier for our customers to understand
So they have felt like YOUR data is really THEIR data for quite some time now.

One of the MAJOR reason I just can't bring myself to pay for the use of ANY AT&T product.

1610.1.2008 12:02

AT&T don't care about piracy. What they really want is to reduce traffic on their network. They know p2p accounts for a good chunk of that traffic. They want downloaders to stop downloading, that will reduce traffic. What they don't realize is, this strategy will work TOO well. Their traffic will be reduced, not because people stop downloading, it'll be because of people cancelling their accounts.

1710.1.2008 14:37

What about people with out other options other than AT&T?

1810.1.2008 16:07

duckNrun

Much like DRM gettign tis ass kicked net privacy will rise and kick the asses of those that trample on it.


Its simple really the ISP dose not need to know what the suer is doing, all they should be concerned with is throttling bandwidth to multi levels of plans, they really need to halve the current prices halve the sped and slap daily allotments on it....


And since the the ISP's are data severs their info should not be protected from lawyers, I would rather deal with the media nazis in court and not have my ISP as a black boot itself.

1910.1.2008 16:20

Will P2P protocols be built to get around the tel-cos?

2012.1.2008 12:46

Ubfortunately, I still have ATT yahoo internet. It was sbc. One thing I noticed while changing out a new hard drive and reloading everything is that by installing the software provided by att yahoo and using there browser, the company was able to keep track of things happening on my computer, especially with the sbc ( att self help tool installed). I kept getting emails from att that my system needed to have other software downloaded for security issues. But the last hard drive I installed, I did not load the software. And what do you know. I am still on the internet using a different browser but I do not have big brother looking over my shoulder. There is something in the dsl software that when you install the att yahoo browser that enables att to look into your computer. My suggestion to any one using att yahoo is to uninstall everything att on your computer, or better yet get a clean hardrive and start over. I know it would be a hassel, but the extra time to start with a clean hard drive and not installing the att yahoo software will prevent att from spying on you.

2112.1.2008 13:13

Originally posted by seti51:
Ubfortunately, I still have ATT yahoo internet. It was sbc. One thing I noticed while changing out a new hard drive and reloading everything is that by installing the software provided by att yahoo and using there browser, the company was able to keep track of things happening on my computer, especially with the sbc ( att self help tool installed). I kept getting emails from att that my system needed to have other software downloaded for security issues. But the last hard drive I installed, I did not load the software. And what do you know. I am still on the internet using a different browser but I do not have big brother looking over my shoulder. There is something in the dsl software that when you install the att yahoo browser that enables att to look into your computer. My suggestion to any one using att yahoo is to uninstall everything att on your computer, or better yet get a clean hardrive and start over. I know it would be a hassel, but the extra time to start with a clean hard drive and not installing the att yahoo software will prevent att from spying on you.
I would not be suprised if they use rootkits and worms to track you but they have more...efficant ways of doing it than by the crap ware they give you.

2212.1.2008 13:56

True. But why open the door for them by installing their tracking stuff. During the 3 months I have not had any of their software installed, I have not received one email from ATT telling me I need to install this or that for security reasons. But I do agree, that if someone wants to track you, then they have the know how and technology to do it. Inspite of all the stuff I have on my system to block my identity and spyware stuff, government will still find a way to get through. And let's face it. All of us at one time or another has downloaded a file or two that "infringed" on piracy. But if it si for personal use only and not for redistribution or resale.......

2312.1.2008 23:33

Well i think their consumer base may drop after this happens.

2413.1.2008 4:20

I use Linux. That makes their job just a tad harder...;)

2513.1.2008 15:18

at&t just lost all my support.

2613.1.2008 18:30
duckNrun
Inactive

Originally posted by craftyzan:
I use Linux. That makes their job just a tad harder...;)
Doesn't Linux send data through the ISP same as Windows or OSX or is there some super duper secret protocols that Linux uses that somehow bypasses the ISP? Maybe Linux sends things through the magical ether instead of through AT&T pipes?

They do not have to install a single thing on your PC to monitor what you do online through their ISP. Maybe scanning your drive will be harder BUT this is about monitoring your COMMUNICATIONS which by default unless you are using end to end encryption goes through their servers in the wide open.

The OS has nothing to do with this. That's like saying 'I bought my phone from radio shack instead of the AT&T store so they can't listen to my phone calls'. Go ahead and use Linux but you are no safer when it comes to monitoring what you do online (via ISP snooping the data sent and received) than using Windows. Maybe they can't root you but they don't need to.

2713.1.2008 22:58

What about archiving your crap in a RAR with an extra bogus file to throw the hash?

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