So AT&T says they’ll cut off your broadband if you say anything mean about them. But they say they don’t really mean that.

However, an AT&T spokesperson tells Ars Technica that thecompany has no interest in engaging in censorship but stopped short ofsaying that AT&T could not in fact exercise its ability to do so.

"AT&T respects its subscribers’ rights to voice their opinions andconcerns over any matter they wish.  However, we retain the right todisassociate ourselves from web sites and messages explicitlyadvocating violence, or any message that poses a threat to children(e.g. child pornography or exploitation)," the spokesperson told ArsTechnica. "We do not terminate customer service solely because acustomer speaks negatively about AT&T."

Note the tense of the verb. "Do not," not "Will not."

Meanwhile, my guy Dingell is getting impatient with waiting for lawsuits to reveal what the telecoms gave to the government on us.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the telecom industry, yesterday sent letters to three major carriers, AT&T, Qwest and Verizon, posing questions aimed at understanding what consumer information is being shared with the government.

"Congress has a duty to inquire about whether [the governmentsurveillance program] violates the Constitution, as well as consumerprotection and privacy laws," said Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.).

AT&T is going to regret that Dingell could only use one carrier with his new I-phone.

The most important bit from this story is that HPSCI seems reluctant to give the telecoms immunity without, first, knowing what we’re giving them immunity for.

Although Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee have said thereis consensus that the companies should have some form of relief, HouseDemocrats have voiced a reluctance even to consider retroactiveimmunity at least until they have an understanding of the program thatthe telecoms are charged with aiding. The administration has resistedsubpoenas for such information.

Given how frequently the Republicans have p3wnd the Democrats this year, HPSCI’s reluctance may not be enough to prevent immunity from going through. But it’s a start.

And in the meantime, why not give DiFi and Jay Rockefeller a call to see if you can talk some sense into them?



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.