AT&T's New TOS "Respects Freedom Of Expression"

BoingBoing reports that AT&T has altered the language in its reviled TOS to say it thinks it’s okay for people to speak their mind. Really, they hard-wired that into the legalese:

“AT&T respects freedom of expression and believes it is a foundation of our free society to express differing points of view. AT&T will not terminate, disconnect or suspend service because of the views you or we express on public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns.”

That’s very sweet of them to say. Really. Though, we’re skeptical of how well, “But it says right here, they respect the freedom of expression as a foundation of a free society!” would hold up in court…

The new language doesn’t seem to fully constitute the “make[ing] clear that we do not terminate service because a customer expresses their opinion about AT&T” they promised last week. The term “Public policy” always refers to government actions. We don’t see where it explicitly says AT&T will not terminate your contract if you criticize aspects of AT&T’s service.

5.1 Suspension/Termination. AT&T respects freedom of expression and believes it is a foundation of our free society to express differing points of view. AT&T will not terminate, disconnect or suspend service because of the views you or we express on public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns. However, 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 (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; or (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines. Your Service may be suspended or terminated if your payment is past due and such condition continues un-remedied for thirty (30) days. Termination or suspension by AT&T of Service also constitutes termination or suspension (as applicable) of your license to use any Software. AT&T may also terminate or suspend your Service if you provide false or inaccurate information that is required for the provision of Service or is necessary to allow AT&T to bill you for Service.

It does, however, no longer say that they will terminate your service for “damaging” their “reputation,” which is a plus.

[AT&T TOS]
AT&T changes Terms of Service — “Freedom of expression is a foundation of a free society” [BoingBoing]
AT&T is OK with you saying they suck [Valleywag]

PREVIOUSLY:
After Blogs Cry “Censorship,” AT&T Says It Will Change Terms Of Service
AT&T Promises To Not Terminate Your Service For Criticizing Them
AT&T And Verizon Can Cancel Service Of Subscribers Who “Damage” Their “Reputation”
(Photo: Charlie Brewer)

Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    at&t sux! there i just wanted to test the waters

  2. Xerloq says:

    The key here is that they can still suspend your account for activity they “[believe] (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; or (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines.

    The AUP says they can suspend your account for actions taken to harm the AT&T network. While it’s assumed they mean physical harm, it’s vague. Also any “applicable policies and guidelines” is vague, too. Sounds like they are just doing a CYA with the revision, but nothing has actually changed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Maybe AT&T will fess up to letting the NSA freely monitor everything going over their network. (Yeah right).

    [www.pbs.org]

  4. Steel_Pelican says:

    “Freedom of Expression.”

    Unless you’re Pearl Jam.

  5. ElizabethD says:

    Star Wars geeks FTW! Does anyone get the Natalie Portman allusion with the pink wig? Sorry, I can’t stay on topic; I’m too excited about all this SW photos goodness lately.

  6. Munsoned says:

    “AT&T will not terminate, disconnect or suspend service because of the views you or we express on public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns.”

    Does AT&T bashing fall into any of those categories? I don’t think it constitutes a “public policy matter,” and it’s certainly not a political issue or political campaign. The opening line is completely unenforcable by anyone.

  7. Wokcus says:

    Also note that “public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns” doesn’t including any criticism of AT&T. So they won’t cut you off for bagging on Bush (for example) but they can still cut your service for bagging on AT&T. So if you have some customer service problem with AT&T and send off a letter to the Consumerist that makes them look bad (even justifiably) then they could still decide to cut you off.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Just make your criticisms of AT&T in the context of public policy and regulation towards said company.

  9. CurbRunner says:

    Amazing!!!

    Here we are, 231 years after the Constitution was signed and AT&T is still screwing around with freedom of speech by responding with a half-baked version of their view of the first amendment that clearly still doesn’t allow for criticism of their organization.

    Do they expect that we are all supposed to respond by shouting a big ZIEG HEIL?

  10. DrGirlfriend says:

    I like it when major corporations give their stamp of approval to constitutional rights. I’m never sure of them until someone like AT&T quietly nods in an “It’s ok, we approve” gesture.

  11. lemur says:

    To those invoking the first amendment. It only disallows the government from interfering with free speech. It does not force citizens or corporations to enable anybody else’s free speech.

    I’m not saying it is okay for telecom companies to cut service because of criticism against them. I’m just saying it is not a constitutional matter.

  12. ancientsociety says:

    @ElizabethD: Portman wore that wig in the stripper scene of “Closer”
    [www.imdb.com]

  13. ElizabethD says:

    @ancientsociety:

    And we have a winner! :-)