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[qi:074] Broadband Reports has this interesting little snippet from AT&T’s terms of service. 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 […]

[qi:074] Broadband Reports has this interesting little snippet from AT&T’s terms of service.

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

Apparently, Verizon has similar terms as well, according to The Consumerist. So if you write a blog post and criticize Ma Bell (or Verizon)…boom….you are fired. Thankfully, I have Covad DSL and no landline. I guess I am safe for now!

Oh by the way, AT&T (T) also bought Interwise, a provider of voice, web and video conferencing services to businesses for approximately $121 million in cash. As we have said, web conferencing is hot.

Update: AT&T has sent us a statement saying that as a result of its recent mergers, it has incorporated language from the AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet Terms of Service into the terms for its legacy Worldnet and BellSouth customers. “The language is consistent with that of previous documents for those companies, and is equally consistent with former AT&T and its legacy companies’ policies,” spokesman Brad Mays said in the email. The company respects its subscribers’ rights to voice their opinions and concerns over any matter they wish, he said. “We do not terminate customer service solely because a customer speaks negatively about AT&T,” he wrote.

Update (1:03 p.m.): Verizon’s blog now contains a post pointing out that the language in its Acceptable Use Policy has been there for nearly a decade. “The provision is meant to cover clearly illegal acts that would include things such as impersonating Verizon to conduct phishing scams or to sell services using our name, or the intentional spreading inaccurate information that significantly harms Verizon,” writes John Czwartacki, executive director of external communications at Verizon and the blog’s editor. Browse any public forum, he says, and “…it’s obvious that we do not disconnect the service of people who criticize us or our services.”

  1. I’ve always hated the fact that these guys can control my DSL now; I’ve got to start looking for better options for me.

    This is a typical play for them, though. I entered into a minor writing deal with them for their Blueroom site and they said that I cannot accept competitive advertising on my OWN site (completely separate from the Blueroom). I asked them to define “competitor” in their eyes and they completely glossed over it.

    Apparently they think they can control the internet.

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  2. Are these companies for real? They expect absolute conformity from customers even if there are legitimate complaints about their services? More disturbing is the idea that someone in the legal departments of these companies is patrolling blogs to silence customers who “tend to damage” their rep. So what recourse does a disgruntled and vocal customer have when their service is shut down? Apparently very little…

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  3. Don’t Talk Trash About the Telcos…Or Else

    The phone companies are doing all they can to look like control-freaks these days. First, AT&T censored the political comments of Pearl Jam during a live webcast, then Verizon refused to sell a text message service to Naral. Both companies…

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  4. ATT can lick my hairy bean bag. I’m tired of them lagging behind the times when it comes to Telco services and then resorting to legal trickery to keep their dominance.

    I have them for DSL, but there’s no choice. I’m stuck with them for a landline for the time being until they can offer naked DSL. Once that happens, no ATT for me. It’ll be a beautiful day.

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  5. [...] it’s only fair for me to criticize the phone companies when they get out of line. The recent flap over AT&T and Verizon’s AUPs might be such an occasion. AT&T tells its customers not to smack-talk them: AT&T may immediately terminate or [...]

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  6. Please, allow me…

    AT&T is the worst telecommunications company currently in business. Their product offerings are overpriced. Their customer service is deplorable. And they are using the Death Star, from George Lucas’ Stat Wars films, as their logo.

    Love and Kisses,
    Todd – current AT&T customer

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  7. Nick and Todd,

    As current customers, I think you highlight nicely the rationality of the Telcos’ behavior. Whaddaya gonna do…switch to the cable company? They also ride the high horse of a local monopoly. They can pillage their customers all they want and you can complain all you want, but it’s not going to change anything.

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  8. A Member of Congress (Rep. Eshoo, I believe) read this provision to AT&T’s witness at a Congressional hearing today and demanded to know what AT&T was thinking. The hearing was on special access so the AT&T witness professed ignorance about this issue but promised to look into it and get back with an answer in 10 days.

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  9. [...] fear of being reprimanded after reading this article at GigaOm, I’m a little scared to name the provider I’ve been struggling with for 3 [...]

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  10. @Nate

    Constitutional right to free speech – trumps your monopoly.

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