AT&T Might Filter Internet Traffic

Aim is to punish illegal file-sharing, but privacy concerns abound
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2008 6:58 PM CST
Chairman and CEO of AT&T, USA, Randall Stephenson, right, and founder of HTC-VIA, Taiwan, China, Cher Wang listen to questions during a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – AT&T is considering steps to filter the Internet traffic it provides in order to stop illegal file-sharing, the AP reports. CEO Randall Stephenson, speaking to the World Economic Forum today, likened the company's role as passive participant in copyright infringement to witnessing a crime: "It's like being in a store and watching someone steal a DVD. Do you act?"

It's not the first time AT&T has discussed such plans, which, if realized, would be a major change from the open-access policy Internet service providers have followed so far. Comcast has utilized bandwidth usage caps in order to discourage file-sharing, although they can also limit legitimate Internet activities. Consumer groups and legal scholars have complained that AT&T’s proposal violates privacy principles inherent to the Internet.