AT&T May Censor Copyrighted Materials At The ISP Level

spanish.jpgI’m often reminded of the Monty Python line “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” as being the perfect analogy for the unexpected, so its apt that I use it here because it looks like what you download online in the United States could soon be monitored and blocked (presuming it breaches copyright) if new plans by AT&T are implemented.

At a panel discussion at the CES conference Tuesday, Senior Vice President of external & legal affairs for AT&T James Cicconi said that “what we are already doing to address piracy hasn’t been working” and further AT&T has been talking to technology companies, the MPAA and RIAA and “we are very interested in a technology based solution and we think a network-based solution is the optimal way to approach this.”

But just in case you think this might be a per-download basis, the target could be much larger than that. General Counsel for NBC Universal Rick Cotton has P2P downloading as his first target, saying “The volume of peer-to-peer traffic online, dominated by copyrighted materials, is overwhelming. That clearly should not be an acceptable, continuing status…the question is how we collectively collaborate to address this.”

This ISP level blocking would be fairly unique, given that most countries that implement censorship online do so at a national level, and usually target porn, moral or political subversion, such as in Australia and China.

Although this would be implemented by AT&T only at this stage giving customers who prefer their internet access without the hand of big brother the ability to change providers, remember that nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. It could well spread to other ISPs as well, particularly once the MPAA and RIAA have one big win on the board.

With apologies to Monty Python again
“Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to copyright, and nice red uniforms.”

(via Engadget)