AT&T threatens to disconnect subscribers who criticize them

AT&T has rolled out new Terms of Service for its DSL service that leave plenty of room for interpretation. From our reading of it, in concert with several others, what we see is a ToS that attempts to give AT&T the right to disconnect its own customers who criticize the company on blogs or in other online settings. In section 5 of its legal ToS, AT&T stipulates the following:

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 (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines, or c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.

Translation: "conduct" that AT&T "believes" "tends to damage" its name, or the name of its partners, can get you booted off the service. Note the use of "tends to damage": the language of the contract does not require any proof of any actual damage.

Link: Forum Discussion (Thanks peachey)
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News source: Ars Technica

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qwexor said,
So you criticize them, they shut you down and you move to another direct competitor and continue to criticize AT&T even more for cutting you off?

HAHA! You said it!
- Let's shut down customers who criticize us.
- Hell yeah! That would make us gain market shares and increase profit!
- So they have to pick another service provider that allow them to criticize us even more. Excellent!
- Excellent idea indeed!

I don't get it. If AT&T cuts your service, that means they've lost a customer. Wouldn't that be to their loss instead?

AT&T sux.... i refused to buy their services. I'd rather deal with charter internet service. it kind of sux. but not as bad as AT&T which i would have to pay for a landilne as well. wtf do i need a landline for? my cellphone from T-MOBILE rocks. no landline needed. no thank you.

AT&T can kiss my @$$

hehe

Obviously they are a Chinese company now, because the Freedom of Speech part of the US Constitution doesn't apply to them anymore.
I guess they got enough of hearing about how they suck!!!

THEY CANT DO THIS..

and here is WHY: (( Freedom of speech / Freedom of Expression )) The right to freedom of speech is guaranteed under international law through numerous human rights instruments..

and if they do they are breaking the LAW

No.

The Freedom of speech/expressions laws are there ONLY to protect you from what you say about the Government, not a private organization (at least in theory of course). AT&T have their own rules and can do what they like, and it's not against the law for them to change the ToS in this manner.

It is incredibly stupid and creates bad PR, but hey, they can act dumb if they want to. :P

You have the freedom to say whatever you want about AT&T. They have the freedom to cut your service. It goes both ways you know.

You never said anything about AOL in what you said. Saying "AT&T sucks" is very, very different to saying "**** **** **** **** ****!!!!!!1"

PureLegend said,
You never said anything about AOL in what you said. Saying "AT&T sucks" is very, very different to saying "**** **** **** **** ****!!!!!!1"

What I was/am getting at, is AOL was did this same thing LONG before AT&T ever tried it. I was curious as to why no one bitched this about them. It's limiting your freedom of speech, so it's the same argument. IMHO.

RAID 0 said,

What I was/am getting at, is AOL was did this same thing LONG before AT&T ever tried it. I was curious as to why no one bitched this about them. It's limiting your freedom of speech, so it's the same argument. IMHO.

Thats because no-one around here would ever use AOL if their lives depended on it.

backslash said,

Thats because no-one around here would ever use AOL if their lives depended on it.

Just using that, as an example. Granted, I did use AOL just for the chat rooms. The amount of..... was well worth the charge of.. free.

at&t sucks,wont touch anything of thiers,if they really do this then ppl will leave them and goto someone else who wont be lame.

LOL. Thank god I'm in the UK. Id love to see a company getting away with that over here. I've heard of tiscali banning people of their forums for saying they were crap but nothing like this. Come on you yanks. You can sue someone for taking a **** in your back garden. I can't believe you'd let an internet company get away with this. Sue their asses.

I believe this statement in there terms of service agreement

c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.

c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.
There crackdown on the iphone also c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.

WOW.. just WOW !!

Yeah I think AT&T should disconnect themselves considering that they just damaged their reputation !!

After all the things I have experienced and heard from my friends about AT&T I will never do business with them. AT&T = Ripoff

Isn't this the same thing as some Windows users cursing and cussing Windows and Microsoft (not a classy thing to do anyway) being told to use something else (*nix or Mac OS, for example)? Except, AT&T is "forcing" those to use a different service by physically disconnecting them. If you don't like something, switch to an alternative. The choices are out there as someone's mentioned.

There's also a fine line between expressing your opinion and attempting to damage the name or reputation. Because by doing the ladder, you're violating the rights of the subject.

There's more than one way of interpreting the situation and there's never a simple conclusion.

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