AT&T And Hollywood: Piracy Versus Privacy

AT&T recently announced that when it comes to piracy it plans to do what other high-speed internet providers have fought to keep from doing; work hand-in-hand with Hollywood. While the details are still rough, AT&T and Hollywood studios hope to work in unison to stop offshore pirates from distributing pirated files across AT&T's network. According to AT&T's senior executive James W. Cicconi a new technology would be developed "to address the legal issues that flow out of using such technology." Cicconi insists that he does not want AT&T to become a member of the internet police, but that for a company involved in content distribution it's a smart business move to combat piracy where possible.

"We've been considering these issues of piracy, and we do feel the interests of our shareholders are aligned with the interests of the content community," Cicconi said.

"We very much have a stake, as they do, in trying to stem illegal appropriation of that content," he said.

Cicconi said the effort is primarily aimed at pirates who set up operations in other countries and upload massive amounts of illegal files using AT&T's network. He said the technology being developed would not target those who download those files.

While AT&T is busy working with Hollywood, its competitor Verizon is watching closely. Verizon, like other internet providers, has also been pressured by Hollywood to combat piracy, but has refused to disclose user's who have downloaded illegal files to preserve its customer's privacy. Consumer advocates have expressed concern over whether AT&T's anti-piracy technology will compromise privacy, but so far it admits that these concerns are mostly due to the lack of details from AT&T. Currently AT&T claims its anti-piracy technology will only target distributors of pirated materials and not the downloader’s.

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