Ars Technica reports on a change in the terms of service for AT&T broadband customers that gives the company the company to terminate service for anyone who “tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.”
Yes, it’s overbroad, overly vague, and therefore probably too difficult to enforce across the board. Nevertheless these terms give the company a good excuse if it wants to go after some overly critical blogger who also happens to be a customer. And, yes, I am an AT&T customer, so I wonder if some company hack will go through my archives of less-than-flattering comment about its former incarnation as SBC, or my critical words about its merger with BellSouth.
Nevertheless, as Free Press’ Ben Scott points out, this represents a basic abrogation of freedom of speech that must be addressed:
“Phone companies are supposed to deliver our messages, not censor them,” said Ben Scott, of Free Press. “If the phone company can’t tell you what to say on a phone call, then they shouldn’t be able to tell you what to say in a text message, an e-mail, or anywhere else. We can’t trust these corporate gatekeepers. Congress needs to step in immediately to safeguard free speech and the free flow of information.”