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AT&T's plans to filter the Internet

AT&T is planning to open "all packets" on the Internet, and examine them for intellectual property violations. Email, IM, everything. So, when Gizmodo writer Joel Johnson was invited onto AT&T's Hugh Johnson Show to talk about gadgets, he decided to talk about that instead. The video:

Naturally, the show's crew calls a halt to the show almost as soon as Joel lets the cat out of the bag, but not before the audience has called out "No!" to Joel's question: "Do you want AT&T reading your mail?" Here's what happened afterwards:

As you can see from the video, the crew ended up scrubbing the interview about half-way through. Figuring that might happen, I asked my steely-nerved friend Richard Blakeley to tape the first take. I wanted to make sure that we had a record of the event, primarily to ensure that AT&T would have no reason to try to bury the interview entirely—the same reason I am running this clip now, while discussion about what to do with my segment in post-production is surely underway.

After the crew got their wits about them—they were not very happy with me, understandably—we went on to shoot a second take, which to Hugh's credit also included not only talk of gadgets, but of network neutrality and AT&T's collusion with the NSA. I look forward to seeing that segment air on the The Hugh Thompson Show.

The crew was upset with me not only because I was making their job more difficult, but because they feared that my stunt would cost them their jobs. Everyone looked at the staff member who booked me on the show with sad eyes, assuring me that he would certainly be fired. After their initial panic at an interview gone off the rails the crew acted professionally and efficiently to continue shooting the show. If AT&T ends up letting a single person go from that crew, shame on them. What I chose to do has nothing to do with the crew or Mr. Thompson himself, who despite being visibly perturbed handled the whole mess like troupers.

There's some discussion over at Slate about whether it's even technically possible for AT&T to do this. Wouldn't it be interesting if AT&T was simply leveraging and privatizing technology it had already been paid to develop under Bush's warrantless surveillance program?

Mr. Randall L. Stephenson

Chairman and CEO

AT&T, Inc.

175 E. Houston

San Antonio, TX 78205-2233

NOTE Via Big Orange (a non-candidate diary!)

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chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

teevee is evil. there, you can see for yourself. good on the nice young man to break script and all that, and i hope no one gets fired. but it's evil, just evil, and i really wish there was some way to convince people that the right amount to consume is near zero.

notice how the host didn't skip a beat, and talked right over the 'how would they do that?' part. the security omerta is strong in that one.

Joe Bourgeois's picture
Submitted by Joe Bourgeois on

the exact way the Shrub phrased his pleading for telecoms' right to break the law?

"Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America."

Believed to have assisted -- we won't even tell you whether they spied on you or not, but you still gotta pass a law saying they can't be sued for the spying they did, maybe.

Anybody seen any mention of this -- especially in the MSM?

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

Again, as much as they'd like to, they are not omniscient. Yet. They don't have the software.

They can store and Google it, however. This provides endless opportunities to ratfuck and engage in corporate piracy. You know, the American Way.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

Submitted by lambert on

Not me!

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Anybody seen any mention of this — especially in the MSM?

not a chance.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

How long before AT$T starts building prisons to house their customers?

It's probably not a crucial point, but JOhnson writes for Gizmodo, not Boing Boing.

I only bring this up because after 2 years of writing for a gadget site he had an epiphany:

I gave up two years of my life writing about gadgets for this site. Waking up every morning at 5 AM, chewing up press releases to find the rare morsel of legitimate information, chasing down "hot tips" that ended up being photochops of iPods with reflections of genitals in the touchscreens. Oh, and the worst: fielding emails from PR parasites eager to suck away precious time in a half-hour phone meeting while the Senior Vice-President of Smoke Blowing tells me about how his company's software—based on an idea cribbed from Google—is going to change the way I look at something I didn't care about in the first place. (Inevitably, "forever.")


Submitted by lambert on

Thanks, sasha.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks for the IEEE link, DCblogger. And in its honor:

Prescient. Artists are the sensitive antenna...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.