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Censorship Communications Your Rights Online

AT&T Silences Criticism in New Terms of Service 298

marco13185 writes "AT&T's new Terms of Service give AT&T the right to suspend your account and all service "for conduct that AT&T believes"..."(c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries." After cooperating with the government's violations of privacy and liberties, I guess AT&T wants their fair share. AT&T users may want to think twice about commenting if they value their internet service."
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AT&T Silences Criticism in New Terms of Service

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  • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @09:13AM (#20792775) Homepage Journal
    Let them try disconnecting a landline telephone line in mid winter in East Coast to a house which has an infant in it.
    Laws exist that prevent disconnecting landline AND electricity which is used to power heat to any house in New England states which has an elder or an infant in it.

    Let AT&T just try it.

    You would see the full weight of law and the CT Supreme Court falling upon it.

  • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @09:18AM (#20792805) Journal
    Yeah but clearly this is a first amendment issue. Isnt AT&T subjected to Common Carrier rules for their internet access at the moment?
  • This should end well (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Joe U ( 443617 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @09:27AM (#20792841) Homepage Journal
    If AT&T starts policing content, then they have proven they have the ability and resources to police their network.

    So, now the fun begins, since they have proven they can police their network, they now have to respond to any illegal activities or risk a lawsuit.
  • Re:I guess (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2007 @09:30AM (#20792859)
    So what, things were good under the monopoly, lawyers got paid lots of money to manage the break up. CEO's are getting huge bonuses for having the business acumen to re-assemble the parts. The way the modern economy works is all derivative. Long ago (think post-depression) companies that were stable in stable markets were seen as fantastic opportunities. In the past 15-20 years people became enamoured with making a quick buck by flipping (houses, stocks, anything) -- it's the derivative that matters not the fundamentals of the investment. Money is made when the derivative flips sign -- so the goal is to create a turbulent market with lots of derivative changes. Ever wonder why big oil companies offer the following logic: 1) when crude goes up, pump prices follow lock step (we have to buy expensive oil to replace the oil you just bought) and 2) when crude goes down, pump prices tail off slowly (the crude that made the product you just bought was expensive). It's all about working churning the market. The loser in the churn is the 401k/403b investor who cotributes on a market agnostic schedule. At&T is just churning on a much slower time scale.

  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @09:30AM (#20792861) Homepage Journal
    Let them try disconnecting a landline telephone line in mid winter in East Coast to a house which has an infant in it.

    Its called "technical difficulties." Any lineworker wanting extra bonus points may climb the pole down the street and find a loose connection on your line. Might be days until they trace it down, but they fixed the wrong connection. Too bad you can't use your phone to complain and get the run-around anymore.

    Been there, done that, but with Bell South.
  • by speaker of the truth ( 1112181 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @09:38AM (#20792905)
    Then why aren't they liable for every single piece of child porn that goes through their network? Aren't they facilitating the distribution of child pornography? Possibly even accessories?
  • ammunition (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2007 @09:44AM (#20792941)
    This is ammunition that we can take to our congressional representatives as evidence that the telcos cannot be trusted with the Internet. AT&T could not have given us a better weapon in our fight for network neutrality regulation.
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:04AM (#20793073) Homepage Journal
    yes they oversell without having the necessary infrastructure, yes most of their services are shitty, but i can curse and swear about them and TO them wherever i want (even on the phone) and even high courts in turkey order turkish telekom to cut uncompetitive practices. hell, even turkish telekom dns'es update themselves like in 30 minute intervals - change a .com domain name's nameservers in enom, voila - not 30 minutes pass before t.telekom dnses pick it up and show site from new place.

    america, land of the free. or was land of the free. why are you people are putting up with this kind of shit there, and not rise up and put an end to that i dont know. you have overthrown the strongest monarchy of the times at 1776. you should be able to topple a bunch of cash greedy bastards.
  • The Bully Pulpit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anna Merikin ( 529843 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:09AM (#20793101) Journal

    AT&T, taken apart decades ago because of their abuse of monopoly power, has not learned how to compete in a free marketplace and, thus, must go back to their orginal business model: hateful monopolizing. Perhaps some of you remember or have seen reruns of Lily Tomlin's wonderful ATT operator.

    The main problem with having a president who lies and suspends constitutional rights is that the public, by example, are led to believe lying and bullying are OK. "Gee, the president makes it work for him...."

    This is the famous Bully Pulpit that the first President Roosevelt talked about.

    To give a more specific example of this principle, when former president George Herbert Walker Bush complained publicly that the Japanese government was trading unfairly with the United States (this was before the Tokyo stock crash) several Japanese tourists were attacked and beaten on the streets of US cities.

    We need a president who loves truth. Otherwise, the US has more to worry about than Ma Bell.

    Of course, Ma Bell is bad enough....

    disclaimer: I am an ATT customer in CA. rethinking my subscription to their service.

    But wait -- that leaves me with using ComCast....

  • by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:29AM (#20793219)

    ethics was never a component of capitalism, we should not be surprised when companies realize that its more profitable to ignore them.

    Ok, for the love of god, stop calling the US economic system capitalism, it isn't, at least not in the way Adam Smith, or even Friedman talked about it. Capitalism assumes that the government limit regulation only to account for externalities ( pollution, healthcare, education etc... ) while simultaneously ensuring that you don't get coercive monopolies. Does this sound like the US today? AT&T is a problem precisely BECAUSE you don't have any meaningful competition. Virtually all of the problems in the US are caused by corrupt decisions that run directly against the idea of utilizing competition in a free market to balance prices. Copyright , Patents, Farmer Subsidies, Trade barriers... you name it.

    It appears to me that you have two very common naive interpretations of capitalism. The first is the "libertarian" viewpoint in which the free market is a magical solution to all problems and government intervention is the source of all evil. The second is what I like to call the "hippie" interpretation which blames all problems on capitalism no matter what. I've heard people seriously trying to argue that capitalism is the root cause of homophobia, apparently due to how corporations favor "the nuclear family" or something (I was tempted to suggest that the nuclear family should be banned on environmental concerns because radiation causes cancer, but I figured it was a bad idea. ).

    Really, stop blaming every single problem on capitalism ( or communism for that matter ). Reality is that the government is corrupt, which will cause you trouble in a planned economy as well as a market based one. Much of this is the consequence of a bad electoral system which favors only two very similar parties, but thinking that the problem would somehow go away if the US had a more socialistic system is naive at best. It would merely substitute government agencies for corporations. To really deal with it you would have to overhaul the electoral system, but that is not going to happen any time soon.

  • Re:Not censorship (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VeteranNoob ( 1160115 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:32AM (#20793255)

    I can't see how anyone could complain about it.

    You mean you haven't seen anybody complaining about it, right?

  • by Spiked_Three ( 626260 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:47AM (#20793337)
    So many of you are naive that these things will come out 'right' in a court of law. Let me tell you firsthand, they do not. AT&T has complete control over the courts.

    It's just like the story from the other day where it costs the guy $7,500 to fight the police for arrest for not showing his license. He obviously had the law on his side and yet it cost him $7,500 to get the charges dropped. Yes you can say he was an idiot for getting to that point in the first place, but the fact is the law did nothing to protect him.

    I recently took AT&T to court for not delivering on a T1 contract level of service. They turned off my service in Jan, I lost my job. I have continued to receive $600 a month bills from them and had my cell phone, voice phone and dial internet disconnected because I did not pay after Jan. Easy day in court right? Yes as a matter of fact it was. The judge drilled the AT&T lawyer a new asshole. So the final outcome? Phone still disconnected, still receiving bills. Judge signs final order written by AT&T lawyer which is nothing like what he ordered in court.

    AT&T is out of control and no one is going to stop them anytime soon. It will take another Judge Green to step in (like the breakup in the 80s) and I wouldn't expect that to happen for another 20 years.
  • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:48AM (#20793343) Journal
    That's because AT&T was Sodomized By Cowboys.

    Sad thing is I've heard this phrase from more people inside the company than outside (usually from baby bells "acquired" by SBC).
  • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:36AM (#20793667) Journal
    I think their argument is that they arn't censoring, they are shutting down accounts altogether. If they only let messages through that didn't have "ATT Sucks" in them, that would be censoring, but this they probably argue is different.

    Honestly, I kinda agree that this isn't "censoring" in the common carrier terminology. They are shutting down accounts, so while *really* stupid and *really* scummy, I don't think it would concern their common carrier status. PS: I have ATT (Used to be bellsouth), they're alright as long as you don't mind a $45 plan going to $65 after fees imho.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2007 @01:01PM (#20794305)
    So AT&T reserves the right to suspend your account and all service "for conduct that AT&T believes"..."(c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries." Obviously AT&T should suspend ITSELF, since there is no such "right" as that, and trying to reserve such a "right" obviously damages the name or reputation of AT&T!
  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @01:40PM (#20794573) Homepage
    Actually the misunderstanding is yours. The constitution, governs the criminal laws and in turn the criminal laws govern civil laws. Any right given by the constitution can not in any way shape or form be over ridden criminal law and in turn no contract condition can in any way shape or form over ride criminal law, as such and by extension no contract condition can in any way shape or form over ride any right given by the constitution, the idea is laughable, the typical corporate idiots bluff, just to forces people to launch litigation, at which time the corporation settles out of court, of course the government should in fact seek criminal redress against the corporation for contracts that infringe criminal law, let alone the constitution.

    So in fact it is a criminal act for someone to impede your freedom of speech, of course with the current US administration you can expect no action to be taken, except for them to seek that the contract condition be extended to cover criticism of el presidente.

  • by Xenographic ( 557057 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @01:49PM (#20794639) Journal
    > But perhaps is is more aimed at net nuisances such as spammers and botnets

    Well, if you read the ToS, they already have that covered a thousand times over.

    > They ought to have developed less-inflammatory wording.

    Not to mention terms that haven't been ruled unconscionable before!

    Just to prove my point, per the ToS [], you agree to their Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) [] (it's item 13 or something, it's pretty far down the list and the AUP has all the good stuff), which states, among other things:

    Abuse of Email/Spamming

    The Service(s) you have purchased from AT&T may include the ability to send and receive electronic mail ("Email").

    Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

    * Mass electronic messages and "mail bombings" (sending mass Email or deliberately sending very large attachments to one recipient);
    * Spamming, or sending unsolicited commercial Email (UCE), sending unsolicited Email soliciting charitable donations, or sending chain Email;
    * Forging Email headers (transmission information);
    * Using another computer, without authorization, to send multiple Email messages or to retransmit Email messages for the purpose of misleading recipients as to the origin;
    * Use of electronic mail to harass or intimidate other users;
    * Use of redirect links in unsolicited commercial Email (UCE) to advertise a website or service;
    * Use of an AT&T-provided Email address, Service or website to spam advertise, or collect responses from unsolicited Email

    (Emphasis added.) Not to mention this:

    Network Security

    It is your responsibility to ensure the security of your network and the machines that connect to the Service(s). You are responsible for ensuring that your customers and users use the Service(s) in an appropriate manner. You are required to take all necessary steps to manage the use of the Service(s) obtained from AT&T in such a way that network abuse is minimized. Violations of system or network security are prohibited, and may result in criminal and/or civil liability.

    Examples of system or network security violations include, but are not limited to the following:

    * Failing to secure your system against abuse. You are responsible for configuring and securing your services to prevent damage to the AT&T network and/or the disruption of Service(s) to other customers. You will be held liable if unknown third parties utilize your services at any time for the purpose of illegally distributing licensed software. It is your responsibility to ensure that your network and/or computer are configured in a secure manner, and to take corrective actions on vulnerable or exploited systems to prevent continued abuse. You may not, through action or inaction, allow others to use your network for illegal or inappropriate uses, and/or any other disruptive, provoking, or abusive behavior that is in violation of these guidelines or the agreement for the Service(s) you have purchased;
    * With respect to Dial-up accounts, using any software or device designed to defeat system time-out limits or to allow your account to stay logged on while you are not actively using the AT&T Service(s) or using your account for the purpose of operating a server of any type;
    * Uploading or distributing files that contain viruses, Trojan horses, worms, time bombs, cancel bots, corrupted files, or any other similar software or programs that may damage the operation of another's computer or property of another;

  • by computational super ( 740265 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:38PM (#20795741)

    And if the consequence is being beaten with rubber hoses and thrown in jail by the police, the first amendment doesn't protect you from that consequence either, eh? Well, you just lost my nomination to the supreme court.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato