AT&T ‘Ready to Filter’ the Web
January 9th, 2008
During a panel discussion at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, AT&T’s top lobbyist said the company was ready to implement new technologies that would allow it to inspect and filter Web traffic.
James Cicconi, AT&T’s senior vice president for external and legal affairs, said that the time was right to start filtering for content at the network level. “We think a network-based solution is the optimal way to approach this,” Cicconi said, according to a New York Times reporter who attended the panel.
It’s no secret that major ISPs have been working with technology companies such as Cisco to filter content with deep-packet-inspection software. Last year, AT&T revealed its plans to work with MPAA, RIAA and broadcasters to use and deploy “digital fingerprinting techniques.
According to public statements, their rationale for playing traffic cop is to ferret out pirated content: sniffing through our digital packets for material that infringe on copyright.
Can You Trust the Filter?
But the technology can be used for other purposes, and the phone giant has shown that it has no qualms invading our communications to hand over our private records to government, or censor speech or block service “without prior notice and for any reason or no reason.”
AT&T has also touted plans to become gatekeepers to the Web with public relations bromides about “shaping” Web traffic to better serve the needs of an evolving Internet.
In reality, Cicconi and his cohorts within the entertainment industry are waging a quiet campaign to control how video and other rich content gets distributed via the Web. The popular trend in video, however, is streaming in the opposite direction. More and more people are becoming their own creators and distributors of homespun video content. YouTube now boasts more than 100 million views each day, but it is just the beginning of this revolution.
Peer-to-peer traffic is spreading via popular technologies like BitTorrent and Gnutella, which allow users to upload and share videos, music and other rich media without a middleman or content gatekeeper. The bulk of this traffic is legal.
Peer-to-Peer Traffic ‘Not Acceptable’
Also at the Las Vegas panel was NBC Universal’s general counsel Rick Cotton, who told the Times that the volume of peer-to-peer traffic online was “overwhelming.”
“That clearly should not be an acceptable, continuing status,” Cotton said, and AT&T seems more than happy to step in.
These executives’ vision of a better Internet — AT&T’s “Your World Delivered” — is not one that is shared by the more than 1.5 million people who have spoken out in favor of a neutral, open and free-flowing Internet.
For us, the Internet isn’t about one company delivering our world or filtering our content. It’s about simply offering a high-speed connection at reasonable rates — and then getting out of our way.
A Surge of More Lies
Jan 08, 2008
by Congressman Robert Wexler
A new troubling myth has taken hold in Washington and it is critical that the record is set straight. According to the mainstream media, Republicans, and unfortunately even some Democrats, the President’s surge in Iraq has been a resounding success. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
This assertion is disingenuous, factually incorrect, and negatively impacts America’s national security. The Surge had a clear and defined objective to create stability and security – enabling the Iraqi government to enact lasting political solutions and foster genuine reconciliation and cooperation between Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds.
This has not happened.
There has been negligible political progress in Iraq, and we are no closer to solving the complex problems – including a power sharing government, oil revenue agreement and new constitution – than we were before the Administration upped the ante and sent 30,000 more troops to Iraq.
Too many Democrats in Congress are again surrendering to General Petraeus and have failed to challenge the Bush Administration’s claims that the surge has been successful. In fact — it is just the opposite.
The reduction in violence in Iraq has exposed the continuing failure of Iraqi officials to solve their substantial political rifts. By President Bush’s own stated goal of political progress, the Surge has failed.
Of course raising troop levels has increased security – a strategy the Bush administration ignored when presented by General Shinseki before the war in Iraq began – but the fundamental internal Iraqi problems remain and the factors that were accelerating the civil war in 2007 have simply been put on hold.
The military progress is a testament to the patience and dedication of our brave troops even in the face of 15 month-long deployments followed by insufficient Veteran’s health services when they return home. They have performed brilliantly despite the insult of having President Bush recently veto a military spending bill that enhanced funding and benefits, and increased care.
Despite the efforts of American soldiers, the surge alone cannot bring about the political solutions needed to end centuries of sectarian divide.
As it stands, little on the ground supports the assertion that Iraqis are ready to stand up and govern themselves. Too few Iraqi troops are trained, equipped and combat ready, and they cannot yet provide adequate security. Loyalty is also an issue in the Iraqi army as Al Queda and Sunni insurgents infliltrate their defense forces. The consequences turned deadly just recently when an Iraqi soldier purposely killed two U.S. troops.
On the streets of Baghdad and Mosul, the Sunni and Shia factions have paused their fighting, awaiting guarantees and protections that have not yet been delivered. As Iraqi refugees return, there is no mechanism to help them rebuild their lives, nor recover their now-occupied homes. Neighborhoods once mixed are now segregated.
In Northern Iraq, Kurdish terrorists conducting nefarious operations across the border into Turkey have compelled our NATO ally to strike at bases, inflaming tensions between Baghdad and Ankara.
The surge is working? We suffered more U.S. casualties in 2007 than in any other year of the war. We can’t afford any more of this type of success.
How can we create the situation that is most likely to deliver political progress in Iraq? Not by continuing the surge and occupation. Our best chance (there is no guarantee) is by putting real pressure on the Iraqi government to force action. Telling the national and local Iraqi leaders that we are withdrawing our troops can help accomplish this goal. Today, the majority Iraqi Shia government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has little incentive to act when American troops remain in the country to provide security and stability.
Based on the Administration’s plan, John McCain’s proposal of a 100-year US occupation could be a reality!
The Democratic Congress must act aggressively to first cut off funding for the surge and then the entire war. Many of my colleagues avoided a showdown with the administration because they mistakenly believed such a fight would endanger the safety of the troops.
In fact, we must accept that every soldier killed or injured in the coming months should have already been home. Every billion dollars of war-appropriations we spend from here on should have been spent on genuine priorities here at home such as children’s heath care.
Enough is enough: While the Administration over-commits American forces in Iraq, we see Al Qaeda-regrouping and Osama Bin Laden still at large. We remain seriously bogged down in Afghanistan, and are witnessing a crisis in Pakistan that has left a nuclear country on the brink of a meltdown. America’s resources and attention are desperately needed elsewhere and our soldiers must no longer be needlessly sacrificed as we wait for Iraqis to stand up.
The Surge has failed. If my colleagues gullibly accept the moving rationale for the Surge, just as so many have for the war itself, we will have failed as well.