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AT&T Faces Scrutiny from Net Watchdogs

AT&T, one of the companies that originally helped hold up the development of the Internet, is facing challenges from the EFF and Common Cause over two separate access issues.
February 1, 2006

Lost amidst all the talk of Google and Microsoft is the fact that AT&T hasn’t had a very good few weeks with netizens, a fact that isn’t necessarily surprising, considering the company’s long – and sometimes confrontational – history with the Internet.

The most damaging claim against AT&T is one made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation just yesterday, which purports that the telecommunications giant voluntarily turned over customer records to the National Security Agency, according to this IDG News Service story.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), based in San Francisco, filed the suit against AT&T for giving the NSA direct access to its databases of communications records, including whom their customers had phoned or sent e-mail to in the past. The suit was filed Tuesday in the United States District Court of the Northern District of California.

The EFF has the entire case file page here.

A second claim – this one isn’t a legal case as much as an information campaign – comes from Common Cause. The organization says that large telecommunication companies are lobbying Congress to change the way the Internet is used by segmenting sites based on ISPs. In other words, if Verizon is your ISP, those folks using AT&T Internet connections wouldn’t be able to access the site.

For those who want a good history of AT&T’s sometimes contentious relationship with the builders of the early Internet architecture, pick up Steven Levy’s great book, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.

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