Gas Week

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AT&T adds extra condition to terms and conditions it imposes upon its broadband users in US: swift cut-off possible for any email that “tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T”

Posted by gasweek on 11 October, 2007

According to John Davidson, AT&T has just added an extra condition to the terms and conditions it imposes upon its broadband users in the US, threatening the very censorship we’re talking about, reported The Australian Financial Review (9/10/2007, p.30).

PR problem? Terminate people’s communications! The condition reads as follows: “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 … tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries. Termination or suspension by AT&T of service also constitutes termination or suspension (as applicable) of your licence to use any software.” Yes, you read it right.

Power to terminate with extreme prejudice: If you were an AT&T customer, and if you were to write, say, a newspaper column titled (just off the top of my head) This Digital Life, suggesting that AT&T is a company operated entirely by villains who have no regard for the civil liberties of their customers, and if you were to send that column as an email to your newspaper for publication, AT&T could terminate your account “without notice”, possibly even fast enough to ensure that your email never arrived at its destination.

Errant thoughts in email now liable: Even if you were to suggest in an email that an affiliate of AT&T (which, depending on how broadly you define the term “affiliate”, it could be just about any company in the US) was villainous, you would be in breach of AT&T’s terms and conditions and could lose your domain name.

The Australian Financial Review, 9/10/2007, p. 30

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