As subtle as a flying brick.

AT&T mulls copyright censorship at the network level

AT&T is considering adding content filters to its network. These will try to figure out if your network connection contains a copyrighted work, and censor any communications that are believed to be infringing.

This strategy will work for approximately 30 seconds — about as long as it takes for people who like to download copyrighted works to switch to using an encrypted protocol — and thereafter it will be primarily useful to bullies and schemers who will use it to silence critics (by claiming their works infringe and getting them censored) and prevent competition (by raising the cost of operating an ISP through the inclusion of the spyware and the hardware to run it on).

Of course, AT&T has already shown its commitment to its customers by helping the NSA conduct wholesale warrantless wiretapping on their entire nation — adding a censorious, expensive, and useless piece of spyware to its network operations is entirely in keeping with its behavior.

“What we are already doing to address piracy hasn’t been working. There’s no secret there,” said James Cicconi, senior vice president, external & legal affairs for AT&T.

Mr. Cicconi said that AT&T has been talking to technology companies, and members of the MPAA and RIAA, for the last six months about implementing digital fingerprinting techniques on the network level.

“We are very interested in a technology based solution and we think a network-based solution is the optimal way to approach this,” he said. “We recognize we are not there yet but there are a lot of promising technologies. But we are having an open discussion with a number of content companies, including NBC Universal, to try to explore various technologies that are out there.”

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