The global internet censorship debate landed in the home of the free Sunday with news that AT&T has censored the popular 4chan /b/ image board.
The censorship was first reported on Reddit, where users confirmed with AT&T that the site had indeed been censored, and was not being blocked due to a technical issue. 4chan owner Moot later confirmed the news, saying that the /r9k/ was also blocked and that AT&T users should “call or write [to] customer support and [AT&T] corporate immediately.”
The censorship at this time extended only to AT&T DSL customers, with wireless (3G) customers believed to be unaffected. Erling Løken Andersen notes that 15.5% of all US internet users use AT&T DSL, meaning that /b/ is now blocked somewhere around 40-60 million people in the United States.
There is no official word from AT&T on the decision yet, and given that it’s Sunday still in the US none is likely until business hours Monday. 4chan users though aren’t particularly happy about the decision, with /b/tards currently discussing ways to fight back against the imposition of censorship.
The decision by AT&T to censor /b/ may also further spark further debate around net neutrality; love or hate 4chan, the decision by a provider to start censoring sites is the beginning of a slippery slope to unaccountable corporate imposed draconian censorship that should have no place in allegedly free democratic societies.
There is also the question of why censor /b/ now and not previously? Could a third party such as Scientology have lobbied for the decision?