AT&T: for shame

I know I’m late on this one, but it’s important enough to chime in on. It’s disgusting what AT&T is doing by spying on their customers and acting as the cops. One thing that’ll make me feel dirty about using my new iPhone is that AT&T is looking at my traffic to see if I’m stealing any movies or music. Is this a deal that Steve Jobs made on behalf of Disney?

Dave Winer has a good point on “death penalty for corporations.”

When companies start spying on their customers I put another mental note that we’re moving closer to an Orwellian society.

Comments

  1. “Cicconi said that once a technology was chosen, the company would look at privacy and other legal issues.”

    They haven’t chosen a technology yet.
    Remember when youtube was going to digitally screen content for watermarks and copyrighted material?
    This technology doesn’t work for various reasons. Ultimately it takes humans to accurately judge this. That’s one of the reasons the RIAA has lost so many cases.
    http://infolab.stanford.edu/~sergey/copy.html
    This is what the top minds have to offer. I think if you read it through you will quickly realize that Sergey didn’t account for documents being re-encoded in many ways in disparate formats. So in other words, it won’t work. Not for him, not for AT&T, ect… If you are paranoid, use SSL.

  2. “Cicconi said that once a technology was chosen, the company would look at privacy and other legal issues.”

    They haven’t chosen a technology yet.
    Remember when youtube was going to digitally screen content for watermarks and copyrighted material?
    This technology doesn’t work for various reasons. Ultimately it takes humans to accurately judge this. That’s one of the reasons the RIAA has lost so many cases.
    http://infolab.stanford.edu/~sergey/copy.html
    This is what the top minds have to offer. I think if you read it through you will quickly realize that Sergey didn’t account for documents being re-encoded in many ways in disparate formats. So in other words, it won’t work. Not for him, not for AT&T, ect… If you are paranoid, use SSL.

  3. Actually, the idea of “death penalty for corporations” is sort of witless (bordering on offensive), if you ask me. Does that also mean that AT&T’s 300,000 employees don’t deserve to have jobs?

    There’s an easy solution, if this offends you so much: don’t use AT&T. But since you want Steve Jobs’ shiny new toy in your pocket, it’s fairly evident that you’re really not all that “disgusted.”

    Consumers (and investors) have the power; it’s just a question whether they choose to exercise it.

  4. Actually, the idea of “death penalty for corporations” is sort of witless (bordering on offensive), if you ask me. Does that also mean that AT&T’s 300,000 employees don’t deserve to have jobs?

    There’s an easy solution, if this offends you so much: don’t use AT&T. But since you want Steve Jobs’ shiny new toy in your pocket, it’s fairly evident that you’re really not all that “disgusted.”

    Consumers (and investors) have the power; it’s just a question whether they choose to exercise it.

  5. I’m not sure what involvement Apple has with AT&T’s move, but if you think about it, Apple has always been about closed, tight, ultra-IP protection, controlled release, etc. The first time they opened their stuff, it became part of Windows. That was the last time. Now there’s the iTunes (which until the DRM-free stuff, has been closed). The OS stays with the computer. Even when Jobs was talking about the iPhone, he was talking about finding a secure way to open up the code for development without giving away too much. This AT&T situation where content will be monitored is kind of in a similar vein.

  6. I’m not sure what involvement Apple has with AT&T’s move, but if you think about it, Apple has always been about closed, tight, ultra-IP protection, controlled release, etc. The first time they opened their stuff, it became part of Windows. That was the last time. Now there’s the iTunes (which until the DRM-free stuff, has been closed). The OS stays with the computer. Even when Jobs was talking about the iPhone, he was talking about finding a secure way to open up the code for development without giving away too much. This AT&T situation where content will be monitored is kind of in a similar vein.

  7. You’re probably right Robert, and I agree that the policy is wrongheaded. Large corporations are complex beasts (as you well know,) and I have a problem about making sweeping categorizations about them… even the most “evil” (LOL) company creates a major social benefit through employment, benefits, etc. That’s why the idea of blithely talking about “death penalties” for companies rankles.

    Now, when there’s an ongoing pattern of criminal malfeasance (a la Enron), I agree the law has to take action. And former employees of Enron somehow survived – although not without significant dislocation.

  8. You’re probably right Robert, and I agree that the policy is wrongheaded. Large corporations are complex beasts (as you well know,) and I have a problem about making sweeping categorizations about them… even the most “evil” (LOL) company creates a major social benefit through employment, benefits, etc. That’s why the idea of blithely talking about “death penalties” for companies rankles.

    Now, when there’s an ongoing pattern of criminal malfeasance (a la Enron), I agree the law has to take action. And former employees of Enron somehow survived – although not without significant dislocation.

  9. “When companies start spying on their customers I put another mental note that we’re moving closer to an Orwellian society.”

    Then why do you support them with your money? Is it so hard to say no when there are alternatives to those products?

  10. “When companies start spying on their customers I put another mental note that we’re moving closer to an Orwellian society.”

    Then why do you support them with your money? Is it so hard to say no when there are alternatives to those products?

  11. Alejandro: I’ve been on Cingular for years. Yeah, moving my phone number is a pain in the behind. And, personally, I want an iPhone. Shoot me. I’m full of contradictions.

  12. Alejandro: I’ve been on Cingular for years. Yeah, moving my phone number is a pain in the behind. And, personally, I want an iPhone. Shoot me. I’m full of contradictions.

  13. This is nothing new; it has always plagued our society. In fact, the US Supreme Court ruled that any and all wiretapping is illegal-BACK IN 1937.

    Yet every other President since has engaged in wiretapping on some level.

    I disagree with the position that it is a DRM vs. consumer rights issue. At its heart it is a civil liberties vs. national security issue.

    Since the FISA courts require the Feds to ID suspects by name AND technology enable enable us to communicate anonymously, the Feds have compelled ATT to wiretap on the “wholesale level” in order to thwart terrorism.

    That said, I do not have an answer to this mess. It is another consequence of the culture clash.

    Don’t get me wrong,

  14. This is nothing new; it has always plagued our society. In fact, the US Supreme Court ruled that any and all wiretapping is illegal-BACK IN 1937.

    Yet every other President since has engaged in wiretapping on some level.

    I disagree with the position that it is a DRM vs. consumer rights issue. At its heart it is a civil liberties vs. national security issue.

    Since the FISA courts require the Feds to ID suspects by name AND technology enable enable us to communicate anonymously, the Feds have compelled ATT to wiretap on the “wholesale level” in order to thwart terrorism.

    That said, I do not have an answer to this mess. It is another consequence of the culture clash.

    Don’t get me wrong,

  15. Why the shot at Steve Jobs? It’s pretty well known what his views on DRM are. Why people act as if being on the Disney board means he can call the shots is beyond me. Intuit’s president used to be on Apple’s board and it never got the Mac a version of Quicken as good as the PC; Google’s CEO is on Apple’s board now and it didn’t stop Apple from using Yahoo! push email and search on the iPhone.

    I would guess that Jobs is pulling his hair out wondering why AT&T would make such a bone-headed move on the eve of the iPhone launch.

  16. Why the shot at Steve Jobs? It’s pretty well known what his views on DRM are. Why people act as if being on the Disney board means he can call the shots is beyond me. Intuit’s president used to be on Apple’s board and it never got the Mac a version of Quicken as good as the PC; Google’s CEO is on Apple’s board now and it didn’t stop Apple from using Yahoo! push email and search on the iPhone.

    I would guess that Jobs is pulling his hair out wondering why AT&T would make such a bone-headed move on the eve of the iPhone launch.

  17. “I’ve been on Cingular for years. Yeah, moving my phone number is a pain in the behind. And, personally, I want an iPhone. Shoot me. I’m full of contradictions.”

    I get that, and my own record isn’t spotless. But I don’t blog about how evil someone else is while giving them money.

  18. “I’ve been on Cingular for years. Yeah, moving my phone number is a pain in the behind. And, personally, I want an iPhone. Shoot me. I’m full of contradictions.”

    I get that, and my own record isn’t spotless. But I don’t blog about how evil someone else is while giving them money.

  19. Just want to point out that Skip is wrong. The laws requiring that service providers not tamper with content apply to legally acquired content. Peer to peer downloads are not legally acquired content. Service providers are free to penalize customers who use P2P.

    Nor do I think most purchasers of the iPhone give a hoot about this so-called issue. Many of us already on iPods. Apple has our names, addresses and a full history of our legal downloads, paid and free.

    The latest anti-iPhone argument is that it is necessary for users to get an iTunes account. But, again, the complainers are misreading the consumers most likely to purchase the iPhone. We are sophisticated people who are realistic about online ‘privacy.’ We know that there isn’t much.

    Note to Robert: You have lamented the absence of a high resolution MacBook Pro. Yet, now that there is on available (the new 17-inch) you haven’t even acknowledged it.

  20. Just want to point out that Skip is wrong. The laws requiring that service providers not tamper with content apply to legally acquired content. Peer to peer downloads are not legally acquired content. Service providers are free to penalize customers who use P2P.

    Nor do I think most purchasers of the iPhone give a hoot about this so-called issue. Many of us already on iPods. Apple has our names, addresses and a full history of our legal downloads, paid and free.

    The latest anti-iPhone argument is that it is necessary for users to get an iTunes account. But, again, the complainers are misreading the consumers most likely to purchase the iPhone. We are sophisticated people who are realistic about online ‘privacy.’ We know that there isn’t much.

    Note to Robert: You have lamented the absence of a high resolution MacBook Pro. Yet, now that there is on available (the new 17-inch) you haven’t even acknowledged it.

  21. I don’t get it. It would seem easy enough to me to not support AT&T any further, unless you are locked in to some contract. Don’t support them any further, and they’ll get the idea if enough people don’t. But publicly blogging about how you hate a particular activity, then still supporting that company? It just doesn’t make any sense. As consumers, we do have the power. Although, you won’t be downloading any digital content over EDGE, that’s for sure.

    It must be some kind of Apple/Steve Jobs worship kind of thing. Because if this device was made by Sony, and had generated this amount of buzz, your feelings would be much different.

  22. I don’t get it. It would seem easy enough to me to not support AT&T any further, unless you are locked in to some contract. Don’t support them any further, and they’ll get the idea if enough people don’t. But publicly blogging about how you hate a particular activity, then still supporting that company? It just doesn’t make any sense. As consumers, we do have the power. Although, you won’t be downloading any digital content over EDGE, that’s for sure.

    It must be some kind of Apple/Steve Jobs worship kind of thing. Because if this device was made by Sony, and had generated this amount of buzz, your feelings would be much different.

  23. There is a minority of legal peer to peer downloading. But, the overwhelming majority of P2P downloading is illegal. Anyone who doesn’t know that would have to be an idiot. Furthermore, most people don’t refer to Google as P2P.

  24. There is a minority of legal peer to peer downloading. But, the overwhelming majority of P2P downloading is illegal. Anyone who doesn’t know that would have to be an idiot. Furthermore, most people don’t refer to Google as P2P.

  25. I do apologise that the catchy song confused you.

    I’m not claiming that google is p2p. I provided a statement, “the internet is for porn”, that is just as true as “Peer to peer downloads are not legally acquired content.” The song merely supports the “truth” of the first sentence.

    > There is a minority of legal peer to peer downloading. But, the overwhelming majority of P2P downloading is illegal.

    And so the backdown begins.

    I note that media companies are starting to use p2p. Are they distributing illegally?

  26. I do apologise that the catchy song confused you.

    I’m not claiming that google is p2p. I provided a statement, “the internet is for porn”, that is just as true as “Peer to peer downloads are not legally acquired content.” The song merely supports the “truth” of the first sentence.

    > There is a minority of legal peer to peer downloading. But, the overwhelming majority of P2P downloading is illegal.

    And so the backdown begins.

    I note that media companies are starting to use p2p. Are they distributing illegally?