AT&T Invents New Method to Target Filesharing Users

As if we didn’t already have enough on our privacy plates. The new patent, awarded to the company on Friday, enables them to keep detailed records of anyone and everyone on their network who might be using popular filesharing protocols such as Bittorrent, Usenet, and other related streaming services available from dozens of different corners of the web.

Assigned to the so-called “risk class”, these users are tagged and targeted by the telecom giant once they detect they have either uploaded or downloaded copyrighted content.

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In response to the public filing, a spokesperson for AT&T had this to say:

“Internet piracy may account for significant bandwidth usage, which may be problematic for a service provider. Thus far, copyright protection measures that have been deployed by, for example, the entertainment industry, have failed to curtail increases in Internet piracy.”

The patent enables the telecom to analyze specific traffic patterns, and mark anyone on that specific router with a tag called a Subscriber Reputation Score. This score goes up or down depending on how much downloading the user is attempting on a monthly basis, including after they have been alerted they’re on the list.

Once on the list, the telecom can then decide whether or not they want to limit their traffic, block known websites carrying pirated material, and even shut down their connection altogether. On top of patents filed earlier in the year designed to track down content being shared on these services and report their findings to the authorities, it’s clear that 2014 is going to be the year of the crackdown if AT&T has anything to say about it.

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