The following was originally posted by girlvinyl on her LiveJournal and is reposted here with her permission. She articulates her position for better than I feel I can on this issue…
I’m not normally one to make ‘statements’ on things in regard to internet drama. Even when that NYT article came out last year, I didn’t comment on it. Most things happen and I know that it’s wiser to sit quietly and let people fight things out amongst themselves. For a variety of reasons.
But today something happened that I feel I should comment on because it affects me and will eventually effect you too.
AT&T has started blocking 4chan for it’s customers. Right now there are just internet forums and posts with people chiming in and no real word of exactly what is happening and how widespread it is. It doesn’t appear to be all customers right now, but it does appear to be geographically diverse.
I do not use 4chan. I don’t understand it and I honestly find it sort of boring. I’m an obsessive gawker devotee, to give an idea of my browsing habits. I like faux news and lol news and some light politics. The content at 4chan is too much for me to handle in general. But 4chan and ED have a close and strange relationship. ED was not started to catalog 4chan, it was started to make fun of LJ, but a lot of 4chan users and ED users started to overlap, so the content began to overlap. 4chan’s founder became Time’s person of the year, 4chan has grown and grown and grown. ED has grown too. And a lot of that growth comes at times when 4chan is down. When 4chan experiences downtime, ED experiences significant increases in traffic. ED appears to be the second stop for 4chan users when their main site is unavailable.
It’s not my place to judge the merit of content on ED or 4chan, but I am an avid proponent of free speech. I understand that AT&T is a business and that that business has the right to shape it’s network traffic as it sees fit. And of course it’s customers have the right to choose another ISP [well, unless AT&T has a monopoly in that locality, in which case they have the right to file an anti-trust lolsuit, which is a dismal reality]. However, the FCC affords common carrier status to AT&T. This means that they have a responsibility to provide the service in a way that is conducive to the public good.
4chan is the cesspool of the internet. I think most people will agree on this. That’s why this battle has started with 4chan. It’s easy to justify to the general public that this censorship is “good” censorship and that 4chan shouldn’t be accessible to anyone, for any reason. Other websites will then be blocked by AT&T, ED being one of them. The smaller ISPs will follow suit, citing AT&T as precedent and eventually there will be blacklists of sites that all ISPs implement for the “public safety”. Thus we have internet censorship with no laws necessary. Even if there are laws against it, Obama has made it clear that he and the congress are happy to excuse this kind of behavior by internet companies and will protect them from any kind of law suit.
If you have AT&T, I highly suggest you switch to another ISP as soon as you can. If you switch to another provider, you can probably get a better deal with a 6 month promotion anyway.
And here is the ED article which is being formulated currently. It includes a list of numbers to call to cancel your AT&T service.