AT&T may filter illegal file-sharing

One of the largest telecoms firms in the US is contemplating the introduction of a filter to block copyright-infringing traffic in its internet service. The company said that network-level filtering was the "optimal" way to deal with piracy.

The proposal is a technical challenge and involves an ISP examining all information transmitted on its network to identify and block material it thinks is copyrighted and being used improperly.

Free speech and privacy activists oppose the examination of all of a user's ISP communications, while digital rights activists claim that filters do not take account of the exceptions from copyright legislation for fair use, including those for news reporting, criticism and review and educational use. US law has an additional exception that allows parody.

Cicconi said that the company was trying to find a solution to a problem neither its industry nor the content industry had yet solved. "What we are already doing to address piracy hasn’t been working. There’s no secret there," he told The New York Times.

AT&T could face customer revolt if it carries through its plans, though. Comcast faced criticism last year when it was found by the Associated Press to be hindering peer to peer network traffic.