Talking About AT&T's Internet Filtering on AT&T's The Hugh Thompson Show

Yesterday, I was invited to talk about gadgets onThe Hugh Thompson Show, a television-style talk show sponsored exclusively by AT&T for distribution on the online AT&T Tech Channel. I eventually did talk about gadgets, but in light of AT&T's shocking and baffling announcement of their plans to filter the internet, I thought that a much more interesting and important topic.

So that's what I talked about.

As you can see from the video, the crew ended up scrubbing the interview about half-way through. Figuring that might happen, I asked my steely-nerved friend Richard Blakeley to tape the first take. I wanted to make sure that we had a record of the event, primarily to ensure that AT&T would have no reason to try to bury the interview entirely—the same reason I am running this clip now, while discussion about what to do with my segment in post-production is surely underway.

After the crew got their wits about them—they were not very happy with me, understandably—we went on to shoot a second take, which to Hugh's credit also included not only talk of gadgets, but of network neutrality and AT&T's collusion with the NSA. I look forward to seeing that segment air on the The Hugh Thompson Show.

The crew was upset with me not only because I was making their job more difficult, but because they feared that my stunt would cost them their jobs. Everyone looked at the staff member who booked me on the show with sad eyes, assuring me that he would certainly be fired. After their initial panic at an interview gone off the rails the crew acted professionally and efficiently to continue shooting the show. If AT&T ends up letting a single person go from that crew, shame on them. What I chose to do has nothing to do with the crew or Mr. Thompson himself, who despite being visibly perturbed handled the whole mess like troupers.

The staff circled me just off-stage after the first shoot. "You realize Hugh doesn't actually work for AT&T, right? He can't speak for AT&T." I told them I understood, but reminded them the entire production is underwritten and broadcast exclusively by AT&T.

That's the point—I wasn't being a twerp just for the sake of being one. This is a critically important issue, one that deserves as much attention as can be drawn to it, especially in a venue where AT&T and its customers are sure to listen. And as the reaction of the crowd to my questions showed, no one wants AT&T rifling around in their communications. The only way to stop them from doing so is to speak up whenever we have the chance.

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