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Folks are working themselves into a lather over an AT&T/BellSouth DSL Terms of Service that may or may not be real. The scary part:

AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service... for conduct that AT&T believes... tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.

Predictably, the geek squad on Slashdot is all worked up about censorship and freedom of speech and consumer rights. Poppycock.

Censorship isn't AT&T cutting off your DSL after you whined about response times, depriving you of your World of Warcraft fix. It's Myanmar turning off the Internet for the entire country so no one will find out they're slaughtering monks. The First Amendment doesn't give you the right to run on AT&T's servers. It allows you to petition the government for redress of grievances without getting thrown in the stockade for your troubles.


Armchair lawyers throwing out ridiculous accusations without having a legal clue are par for the course on the Internet, and one has to tolerate a certain amount of them to even read a site like Slashdot. But it never hurts to remember that you can't believe everything you read on the Internet — especially when it has to do with the law, a sphere in which file-sharers, free-speech zealots, and creative-copyright enthusiasts seem to believe that wishing makes it so.

It raises the question: If these users hate AT&T so much, why do business with them? You're probably the one slowing down my connection by downloading Spider-Man 3 off The Pirate Bay. Good riddance, I say. But, more than that, has anyone actually had their service terminated under this clause? Or is this yet another case of people getting worked up over a misinterpreted legal document that's never been enforced?


Anyway, while we're on this topic, let me tell you about a company that really sucks:


(Disclosure: I own an iPhone and until I wrote this post, I was an AT&T Wireless customer)
(Image by Jesus Diaz for Gizmodo)