Content and context.

Tim Wu thinks that AT&T’s proposal to filter content is crazy based on the fact that it opens them up to all kinds of potential litigation:

Here’s the kicker: To maintain that immunity, AT&T must transmit data "without selection of the material by the service provider" and "without modification of its content." Once AT&T gets in the business of picking and choosing what content travels over its network, while the law is not entirely clear, it runs a serious risk of losing its all-important immunity. An Internet provider voluntarily giving up copyright immunity is like an astronaut on the moon taking off his space suit. As the world’s largest gatekeeper, AT&T would immediately become the world’s largest target for copyright infringement lawsuits.

He also thinks this might be there way to avoid net neutrality:

It may be that AT&T so hates being under the current network neutrality mandate that it sees fighting piracy as a way to begin treating some content differently than others—discriminating—in a politically acceptable way.

I would have another concern. How does AT&T judge whether the content that is being sent is legal or not? How does it know the difference between a movie I purchased on iTunes versus one on YouTube? How does it know that CBS didn’t intentionally put an episode of CSI on YouTube? What if I’m watching hulu.com?

Will there pick and choose based on the source website? What happens if a new company licences content for distribution?

Does that mean that every new video company must ask permission from AT&T to operate? And AT&T now gets to pick the winners and losers?

Even if I had the tiniest bit of faith that AT&T could get this right, I would still be very concerned about them essentially controlling what happens on the internet.

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