The condemnation of the change in the AT&T DSL subscriber terms of service is near universal. AT&T is concerned enough about how they appear to the public that a spokesperson had something to say to Ars Technica when asked about the situation:
AT&T respects its subscribers’ rights to voice their opinions and concerns over any matter they wish. However, we retain the right to disassociate ourselves from web sites and messages explicitly advocating violence, or any message that poses a threat to children (e.g. child pornography or exploitation). We do not terminate customer service solely because a customer speaks negatively about AT&T.
Few would argue that AT&T should be forced to host child porn. If I were an AT&T customer, I’d still be looking for another DSL provider. Why? Because if they want to crack down on child porn or violence, their terms of service should say they will terminate your account if you post child port or violent content. Rather, they leave the door open to dumping customers for any reason they choose. This is another example of how organizations large enough to have a stable of lawyers are painfully explicit about customer responsibilities and limitations, but remarkably ambiguous when it comes to their responsibilities and restrictions.
Not only are large organizations difficult to trust because no one takes any personal responsibly, but AT&T in particular does not have a good record for respecting their customers. AT&T assisted the NSA in an illegal domestic surveillance program that ran for six years before being discovered. My understanding is the AT&T network carries a significant portion of all North American Internet traffic at a few key points and they let the NSA ‘hook in’ at these points to snoop.
So why would anyone believe AT&T when they say their broadly worded terms of service will be used to target a narrow set of problems?
Last minute update:
According to Ars Technica, AT&T has relented. At least they claim to have seen the light.
The company now says that it will significantly revise the language to make it more clear what AT&T actually intends to enforce. An AT&T spokes person tells Ars that the changes are all about “making sure customers know that they are the most important asset and that we are listening.”
Yes, AT&T sees its customers as assets. Assets with money. Until there was an outcry, it seems the customers weren’t so very important. A drunk can drive better than these jokers manage the company.
They’ve issued no updated terms of service so we have only their word on this reversal.