Over the past two years, we haven't had a lot of praise for Verizon, mostly because we have been at odds over issues like net neutrality and opening up wireless networks to all devices and applications. But despite this very heated battle over the future of the broadband Internet, Verizon has remained a valuable ally for PK and copyright reformers on both domestic and international copyright issues.
It was in this vein that during a panel on copyright filtering at yesterday's State of the Net conference, I singled out Verizon for praise for not succumbing to the same pressure from the content industry that has resulted in AT&T's promise to filter their network for copyright violations. Referring to Tim Wu's wonderful piece Has AT&T Lost their Mind?, I pointed out that a network provider would burden their already overloaded systems with such filters, and raised the specter of the enormous invasion of privacy attendant to the kind of packet sniffing that would be required to do such filtering.
Soon after the panel ended, Verizon's Executive Vice President Tom Tauke made clear at the conference luncheon that my praise was well deserved. When asked by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) whether Verizon would follow in AT&T's footsteps, Tauke did not mince words. He said that it would be 1) a bad business decision “to assume the role of being police on the Internet;” 2) a likely invasion of privacy; and 3) would open the door to requests from others to filter out other objectionable material, like indecency and online gambling. CNET has more here.
Thankfully, Verizon is not alone among ISPs refusing to get into the copyright filtering game. Interestingly (particularly given content company Time Warner's role), the cable industry has also refused to go down that road. Now that's not something you see every day (or maybe ever): PK praising Verizon and the cable industry in the same breath!