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Has Tim Wu lost his credibility? in his tunnel-vision piece: "Has AT&T lost its mind?"

Tim Wu is losing credibility fast. 

  • His new piece in Slate: "Has AT&T lost its mind? A baffling proposal to filter the Internet" is myopic, uniformed, and borderline hysterical.

Mr. Wu please calm down. Put away any sharp objects and please listen to some reason. 

  • Internet "filters" should not be baffling to you at all Professor Wu, because the Internet has long been "filtered" for illegal, malicious and hazardous traffic and the overwhelming consensus over the last decade is that such "filtering" is good and essential -- not bad or nefarious. 
    • Mr. Wu there is this problem called "spam." It's sort of like the junk mail that you don't want overwhelming your mailbox or the robocalls you don't want at dinner time.
      • There is an organization called Spam Filter Review that estmates that ~40% of all email is spam.
      • Americans don't like or want spam and do not support the un-restricted freedom to spam.
      • Congress even passed laws against this "digital freedom" with serious criminal penalties.
    • Mr. Wu there is also another problem called malware. Some people call them viruses, worms, Trojans, etc. People don't like this stuff -- it hurts them. It can ruin your computer, destroy your files, take over your computer and make it a botnet zombie that attacks other computers or shuts down whole networks.
      • You may not be aware that there is an industry called "Internet security" that develops products and services to "filter" out this bad stuff, just like doctors use masks and other "filters" in the operating room and people "filter" water for bacteria/viruses and other contaminants. 
      • Maybe you have even heard of companies like Symantec and McAfee which are really quite popular and make hundreds of millions of dollars a year to "filter" out illegal and harmful traffic for American consumers. 
    • Mr. Wu there also happens to be this serious problem of inappropriate material reaching children and teens on the Internet that most parents believe can be very harmful to them.
      • I know it may be surprising to you, but millions of concerned and responsible parents buy a variety of internet "filter" products and ISP services to "filter" out pornography, gambling and other family-inappropriate content -- see or for just a couple.  
      • I know this may also be a surprise Mr. Wu, but there is an entire industry that makes money meeting the demand from millions of Americans to "filter" out content that they don't want in their homes. 
        • I know it is appalling to you that anyone could conceive of discriminating against any Internet-produced content that by definition deserves to be free to go whereever the bitstream may take it.
        • Nevertheless, many people do want to "discriminate" against harmful or illegal traffic because it protects them.
  • Now that you are more calmed down Professor Wu, you might be able to hear some reality about AT&T and the whole issue of Internet "filtering" of harmful material.
    • Mr. Wu go to the Government's website:, which is the clearinghouse for Internet issues from all the major law enforcement organizations in the Federal Government.
    • If you look more closely Mr. Wu you will see that one of the 17 official "Partner" programs of the Federal Government is the Anti-phishing Working Group found at  
    • Follow it to where you will see prominently on the right side that AT&T is one of several corporate members.
      • Now don't let me upset you, Mr. Wu.
      • I know it would be better for you to be able to personally play the digital equivalent of Paul Revere for your fellow "information commons" followers warning them that "the AT&T filters are coming!" "The AT&T filters are coming!" -- but the problem with that -- is that AT&T has been responsibly and without fanfare working with many others to "filter" out traffic engaged in fraud: phishing scams, Pharming and spoofing of all types.
      • Mr. Wu, it is also important to note that there is strong consensus for companies to work together to stop fraud and abuse of their customers.
      • I know it comes as a surprise that some people would want to be non-neutral and discriminate against Internet traffic designed to defraud, trick and harm people, but people are funny that way, they are able to balance competing goals and priorities and not insist on an absolutist net neutral position that all net bits be treated equally.
  • Now that you are even more informed and therefore more calmed down Mr. Wu, hopefully you can see even more logic of why a company like AT&T might cooperate with other companies on piracy as they have on Internet fraud. 
    • Professor Wu you may have missed an important recent report by the head of the Patent and Trademark Office to Congress that documented that p2p/file-sharing traffic not only was still used for rampant piracy/copyright theft (a la Napster and Grokster) but that pirate-friendly p2p networks were a serious data security threat to Americans' personal, corporate, and government information. The report documents how many file sharing programs are coercive and command an infected computer to do things not in the interest of the computer's owner. 
    • Of course it is also well known that p2p traffic dominates Internet traffic and that most p2p traffic is still widely suspected to be illegal piracy of movies and shows. 
    • In this context, it is not surprising Mr. Wu why AT&T or another broadband provider would find "piracy" to be a problem potentially warranting "filtering." 
      • Mr. Wu, how is filtering email for spam or traffic for viruses different than filtering for other illegal traffic like p2p coerced sharing programs that operate like a viruses and worms that most everyone wants "filtered" out?

In closing, Mr. Wu I trust that you are now less concerned that life as people know it, will not end if companies eventually filter for additional types of illegal/harmful Internet traffic.

  • I trust that you and your allies in the information commons movement will not "block, degrade or impair" the free and open effort to protect consumers from harm on the Internet.