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The Internet The Almighty Buck

AT&T Invests in Filtered Networking 152

Filtered Coward writes "Last summer, AT&T announced its intention to begin filtering copyrighted content at some point. The telecom has now bought a chunk of Vobile, whose core product is VideoDNA. "Like other systems of its kind, VideoDNA develops a unique signature from every frame of video. The signature is meant to be robust enough to survive various transformations and edits, and it can then be used to run matches against incoming content.' Vobile claims that VideoDNA is good enough to be used on video when transmitted over a network. 'Based on the complexity of the problem, we suspect that anything initially deployed by AT&T will fall far short of a robust P2P video filter. But should AT&T truly have its eyes on just such a prize, the company would be in a powerful position to impose its own policies on the entire US, since it owns major parts of the Internet backbone.'"
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AT&T Invests in Filtered Networking

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  • by compumike ( 454538 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @01:57AM (#21375241) Homepage
    Encryption can beat this, but should it have to? Now we've got to throw a lot of computing power at a problem just to get around our nominally "common carriers."

    I think we can all agree that there's a problem: lots of illegal video transmission is happening online. And while some of the slashdot crowd consists of "information wants to be free" hippies, there is also a good community of people who reasonably understand the value of intellectual property rights. But I don't think anyone is excited about a solution like this, which clearly removes the user's fair use rights and common sense.

    So where's the balance? Can a technical solution exist that will simultaneously stop the illegal pirating of movies and TV shows (which would be good), and allow other uses (even short clips, parodies, etc)? I think the answer is no. The determination of fair use relies heavily on intent, and no technical system will be able to determine that very effectively.

    NerdKits: Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. []
  • Co-conspirators (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr_Blank ( 172031 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:05AM (#21375289) Journal
    I thought telecoms were immune to certain types of litigation because they are neutral carriers of data. If a person makes a phone call or uses a bulletin board to commit a crime, the teleco is not part of the conspiracy. They are neutral. If AT&T starts filtering out "criminal" activity (and what jury of peers determined that anyhow?!), then are they giving up their neutral status? If they try to filter any material, will they be liable for all the material that inevitably slips through their net?

        Also, how do they pick out copyright material for which a license has been granted compared to material that is "criminal" activity?

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:19AM (#21375351) Homepage Journal

    And while some of the slashdot crowd consists of "information wants to be free" hippies, there is also a good community of people who reasonably understand the value of intellectual property rights.
    And while some people are more than willing to sell everyone's rights up the river for fist full of gold, there is also a good community of people who have morals and are willing to refuse to obey bad laws.

  • by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:23AM (#21375375) Homepage

    How can they distinguish between encrypted video and other kinds of odd, binary data that they have no business interfering with, such as text in an exotic language and encoding, or somebody's proprietary compression format, or raw data from some odd kind of sensor?

  • Good ole Ma (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gsn ( 989808 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:37AM (#21375459)
    It's taken under 30 mins since this story was posted and the obvious is already been pointed out
    a) this technology can't work - too much overhead looking through all those packets
    b) will probably flag several false positives
    c) can be circumvented with encryption

    AT&T doesn't have to do anything though - they just have to appear to be looking out for the media companies. Perhaps even catch a few dumb people who upload a lot and don't use encryption and hand them over to the media companies to sue. Makes many people appropriately scared of Ma Bell. And who do you think the media companies will choose to deal with to distribute their content on the mobile and internet platform. Well its not like they will have much choice really - IIRC the FCC relaxed rules that prevented AT&T from charging more for access to its lines. Remember when the government broke AT&T up - probably not which is the problem.
  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:41AM (#21375475)
    This is AT&T. They don't distinguish, they just give it all to the NSA, as demonstrated by the lawsuits filed by the EFF and the whisteleblower who revealed the taps on core fiber optic backbones.

    The NSA, now, has fairly good tools. There's a fascinating tool from a company called Sandstorm that re-assembles network traffic into its distinct streams and does quite a good job of re-assembling email and web transactions. Given a remote opportunity to do a man-in-the-middle SSL key replacement, or simply steal the SSL or SSH keys from the serving host (with or without a subpoena), such tools could doubtless do quite a good job of intercepting transmissions seamlessly. And innocent folks aren't bothered to go to that level of protection, such as using obscure languages or real one-time pads.

    Like the phone company's wilingness to tap phone conversations from the telephone offices, undetectably, because it's merely duplicating the digital bits and sending them to whomever they care to send them to, such monitoring constitutes a massive risk to the innocent for political and illegal monitoring. We see what such monitoring and related censorship does in China right now: we need to be extremely wary of it occurring here with such tools casually accepted.
  • Re:Co-conspirators (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:56AM (#21375551)
    The sad thing is that mail carriers are not blamed for the anthrax scares, and telephone companies not blamed for their lines being used to transmit terrorist plots, or even the buy-and-toss cell phone companies for further allowing hard-to-pin conversations to happen. But somehow ISPs and telcos get tied in some notion they should provide a silver bullet for illegal activity. Why not sue the government for making so many roads that facilitate drug trades quick get-aways?

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"