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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

AT&T is Spying on YOU!

In a move that has executives from movie studios and record labels grinning from ear to ear, AT&T has announced that it will develop and deploy technology that will attempt to keep pirated content off its network. The move is spurred in part by the company's decision to offer IPTV television service as part of its U-Verse package, AT&T senior VP James W. Cicconi told the Los Angeles Times.

Despite the major technical problems inherent in such a program, AT&T is moving ahead. By making themselves into the arbiters of copyright law, the company risks being drawn into a costly "arms race" with programmers who don't like the idea of a massive corporation (and one which appears to have turned over information to the NSA) peeking into their packets and deciding which ones go through.

This is exactly the situation that Dr. Greg Jackson, CIO of the University of Chicago, warned Congress about last week. "The only successful, robust way to address problems that involve personal responsibility and behavior is with social rather than technological tools," he said in a hearing. "If we instead try and restrict behavior technologically... the only result will be an arms race that nobody wins."

There's a certain creepiness to having one of the country's largest IP networks doing deep packet inspection and monitoring, but consumers who value their privacy can always go somewhere else, right? Not necessarily. In addition to running a massive network of its own, AT&T runs a good chunk of the backbone infrastructure in the US. It's a rare bit of traffic that can make it to its destination without passing on to an AT&T-owned network. If the company deploys its anti-piracy technology to all data passing through its networks, AT&T's "solution" could affect most US Internet users. In addition, many US residents have limited broadband choices. arstechnica.com-source

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