Net neutrality, anyone? What an incredibly slippery slope we're now hurtling down...
Slashdot broke the news on Saturday that AT&T's updated terms of service for its high-speed Internet packages essentially forbid you from criticizing the company on pain of cancellation. The full terms of service are here, and here's the offending passage highlighted, courtesy of Ars Technica:
AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines, or (c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.
This is the exact kind of overbroad legalese that gets companies in trouble in ways they probably never thought of. If I am an AT&T subscriber, for example, and I post derogatory comments about AT&T on a site they own, does this give them leave to terminate my service? What if I post or send a complaint about AT&T to a complaint site or consumer news site, like ConsumerAffairs.Com (whom I write for), and they publish said complaint? Am I liable if I was using my AT&T ISP while writing said complaint? What if I did so while using my laptop at a Wi-Fi hotspot? The mind boggles.
Martin at S&R continues on with other egregious acts that AT&T has committed in the last few years, from cooperating with the Bush Administration on domestic wiretapping to blocking NARAL's text messages. And while Verizon's Terms of Service are no better, this kind of corporate fascism is truly disturbing. Tim Karr has more. Thankfully, I don't use AT&T or Verizon for my service, so I feel comfortable quoting William O. Douglas to them:
Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.