The New York Times reports that AT&T, Microsoft and other tech companies seeking to protect copyrighted online media materials proposed that ISPs become internet traffic cops:
For the last 15 years, Internet service providers have acted…as wide-open information super-highways, letting data flow uninterrupted and unimpeded between users and the Internet.
But I.S.P.’s may be about to embrace a new metaphor: traffic cop.
At a small panel discussion about digital piracy at…the Consumer Electronics Show…representatives from NBC, Microsoft, several digital filtering companies and the telecom giant AT&T said the time was right to start filtering for copyrighted content at the network level.
…Network-level filtering means your Internet service provider…could soon start sniffing your digital packets, looking for material that infringes on someone’s copyright.
It appears these discussion are at an advanced stage:
James Cicconi, senior vice president, external & legal affairs for AT&T…said that AT&T has been talking to technology companies, and members of the M.P.A.A. and R.I.A.A., for the last six months about carrying out 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.
This idea seems downright wicked and I predict consumers will howl with outrage. I just hope the open internet advocates aren’t being caught flat-footed. I wish the reporter had quoted a rep from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on the subject.
The industry flacks display their typical cluelessness in understanding how their customers might respond to this disruption of their online experience:
I asked the panelists how they would respond to objections from their customers over network level filtering…
Mr. Cicconi of AT&T…told me that I.S.P.’s like AT&T would have to handle such network filtering delicately…“We’ve got to figure out a friendly way to do it, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
AT&T: your friendly internet traffic cop…Where can I sign up?