January 21, 2008 | By Cindy Cohn

3 Things on AT&T's Proposed Net Filtering Plan

The internet brought us three terrific discussions about AT&T's plan to filter the internet this week.

First, over at Slate.com, Tim Wu asks: Has AT&T Lost Its Mind? pointing out that the company risks losing its immunity from copyright liability if it takes an active role in selecting which content can travel over its network. He says: "An Internet provider voluntarily giving up copyright immunity is like an astronaut on the moon taking off his space suit."

Second, filtering was discussed again in lively debate on the New York Times Bits Blog between Tim Wu again (Tim's been terrific on this issue) and Rick Cotton of NBC Universal.

Finally, in an act of media heroism, Joel Johnson of Boing Boing Gadgets went on the AT&T-sponsored The Hugh Thompson Show and did the unspeakable: instead of discussing gadgets he talked about AT&T's plan to filter the internet and asked the audience whether they wanted AT&T to be reading their emails and instant messages. Not surprisingly, even the AT&T-picked studio audience thought turning the phone company into Big Brother was a bad idea. The producers stopped the interview after a few minutes, then sanitized it with another take, but Joel had a friend tape the original and posted it:

mytubethumb play
%3Cobject%20width%3D%22425%22%20height%3D%22373%22%3E%3Cparam%20name%3D%22movie%22%20value%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fv%2FbY6cCGENlj8%26amp%3Brel%3D1%26amp%3Bborder%3D1%3Fautoplay%3D1%22%20%2F%3E%3Cparam%20name%3D%22wmode%22%20value%3D%22transparent%22%20%2F%3E%3Cembed%20src%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fv%2FbY6cCGENlj8%26amp%3Brel%3D1%26amp%3Bborder%3D1%3Fautoplay%3D1%22%20type%3D%22application%2Fx-shockwave-flash%22%20wmode%3D%22transparent%22%20width%3D%22425%22%20height%3D%22373%22%3E%3C%2Fembed%3E%3C%2Fobject%3E
Privacy info. This embed will serve content from youtube.com

Let's hope this is the start of a trend. The tombstone on this bad idea should read: "Internet Filtering: Killed by the Power of the Internet."


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