Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Get Out Of Our Online Face At&T

Broken up in 1974 by anti-trust lawsuits brought by the Department of Justice, AT&T was widely known the world over by the materialistic call sign of 'Ma Bell.' The divestiture caused for the conglomerate to be split into seven regional carriers, or 'Baby Bells. This was done to foster an atmosphere of competition in the telphone and communications industries, and was completed in 1984.

But just as surely as AT&T has sought, fought, and bought it's way back from the rulings against it by getting deregulation laws passed by the corrupt Congress, and an even more corrupt Bush Administration, AT&T is starting to resemble little more than a huge criminal enterprise itself.

Putting aside the fact that while everyone was asleep at the switch in this country, AT&T has bought back and consolidated through mergers with SBC Communications, (the corporation that consisted of three of the merged 'Baby Bells) almost all of the original Bell corporations, including the recently acquired Bell South. Being very careful not to alarm the sleeping populace by making sure not to have any mention of the name 'Bell' in any of their new corporate make up's name, the new AT&T emerged as the same behemoth that the then not so corrupt government was trying to guard against.

But I digress. Last year we were all treated to the alarming news that AT&T was allowing the National Security Agency, or NSA, to illegally spy on American citizens. Mark Klein, who worked at AT&T for twenty years as a technician, blew the whistle on the scheme, and it was then that we came to find that AT&T was not alone in their illegal practice. Due to it's criminal liability, and the very real possibility that the corporation was now exposed to not only criminal prosecution, but massive civil liability, the corrupt Administration has tried to force the corrupt Congress to go along with a new plan to immunize all telecommunication companies that co-operated with what was a breaking of the law in the first place. It must be great to make the rules up as you go along. Luckily, there have been a few honorable Senators who have refused to go along with this insanity, and hold hearings to determine the extent of the invasion of privacy and illegal spying of American citizens.

But today, we now hear what should amount to the straw that broke the camel's back. AT&T has announced that it may begin to monitor online traffic by customers. They claim they want to do this in order to prevent online file sharing of copyrighted materials. The knot that hits the pit of your stomach isn't the fear that you may get caught up in some sort of sting operation, that is, unless you are illegally sharing these materials. No. That knot you feel is the fear that once again, just like Comcast has done, (even as they deny it, we all know it's true), the internet will be censored by some corporate bureaucrat, who will now have the power to decide what sites you may visit, and which ones will be deemed inappropriate.

Slice it any way you like. Swear it will never happen. We don't believe you. What can and will happen is that every click of your mouse will be recorded and stored in that infamous room 305 for the government to peruse any time they so choose. This is nothing more than an attempt to censor the internet by Big Business, and to stifle the free flow of ideas. The powers that be hate the fact that online, people across the world can reach out to one another to share information, and get to the truth of things being told to us by our respective government entities. They are trying to stamp it out under these phony, seemingly reasoned arguments, that are little more than an excuse to further break the law, further erode our rights, and control what information we are allowed to see or hear.

If you think this idea is far fetched, take a look at internet access in China, that, with the complicit help of U.S. corporations, is censored to a degree that access to websites the government doesn't want the people to see are blocked by the same U.S. corporations.

The internet should not become a playground for this government or these corporations to play around in, using it as a testing board to see how far they can push before the people revolt.

They use the argument that people share copyrighted materials over peer to peer networks and they, as righteous and upstanding citizens, can not stand idly by and watch what amounts to shoplifting go on. They are duty bound to do something about it. Oh really? Who deputized AT&T executives and gave them police powers? Peer to peer file sharing of copyrighted material is a minuscule part of what goes on daily on the internet, but AT&T, and by proxy, the fox in the hen house U.S. Government would have us believe that it is so rampant, they must now monitor and block access to sites that they don't like.

The next step will be blocking access to sites that dissent from the corporate government's handling of our country. Maybe AT&T needs to rethink this, and do so quickly. Maybe AT&T needs to get out of our online faces and go back to what they're supposed to be doing, mainly providing a service, and not playing policeman to the internet community. Because just maybe, if they go ahead with this plan, consumers will switch to other carriers all at the same time, and AT&T will become some obscure company that got bigger than it's shoes, and was tossed aside in favor of more freedom loving companies. Think about that, Mr. Stephenson. Batmanchester

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