updated 01:30 pm EDT, Wed March 25, 2009
AT&T issuing piracy notice
(Update with AT&T response) Telecommunications provider AT&T has confirmed it is working with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) by issuing cease and desist notices to subscribers whose accounts have allegedly been involved in illegal file sharing. CNET reported on Tuesday that AT&T senior executive Jim Cicconi broke the news at a digital music conference in Nashville. Both AT&T and Comcast were named as partners in RIAA's fight back in January, which switched from suing file sharers to issuing notices via Internet service providers. The association has other ISP partners, but has not yet named them.
Cicconi noted that AT&T is testing customer reaction with the notices, and AT&T says they are meant to educate customers and not accuse them of any wrongdoing. Claimed industry sources indicate AT&T would highlight the consequences of illegal downloading but would not mention service cancellations or other disruptions. The RIAA has previously announced repeat offenders could lose Internet service, if only temporarily, as part of its graduated response plan, though providers would still need to accept the approach.
Critics have warned that instituting a warning system with a real threat of disconnection has the potential to drive customers towards smaller providers or those that refuse to adopt the RIAA policy. [via CNET]
Update: AT&T has responded to the report by stressing that no accounts are being suspended, nor customers accused. AT&T's experience has been that after the notices, customers stop the questionable behavior with some thanking them for bringing the issue to their attention. A similar program headed up by Warner Music Group in the UK resulted in 70 percent of subscribers stopping their illegal activities after the first notice, while 90 percent stopped after the second.