ATandT Lifts 4chan Block, Denies Censorship

AT&T says it has lifted a block it put on part of the notorious bulletin board. AT&T says the block was a security move in response to a denial-of-service attack against one of its customers, but the incident has touched a nerve among those concerned about net neutrality and censorship.

AT&T blocked portions of the bulletin board July 25 and 26 in response to denial-of-service attacks against an AT&T customer, touching off a debate on censorship and network neutrality.

In response to criticism, AT&T stressed that it moved against because of the attack, and not because of content posted there.

Click here to read details about a July 4 cyber-attack on the United States and South Korea.

"Beginning Friday [July 24], an AT&T customer was impacted by a denial-of-service attack stemming from IP addresses connected to," AT&T officials said in a statement. "To prevent this attack from disrupting service for the impacted AT&T customer, and to prevent the attack from spreading to impact our other customers, AT&T temporarily blocked access to the IP addresses in question for our customers. This action was in no way related to the content at; our focus was on protecting our customers from malicious traffic."

AT&T said it lifted the block on the IP addresses in question overnight July 26 after the threat was over.

"We will continue to monitor for denial-of-service activity and any malicious traffic to protect our customers," the company said.

The move against set off a torrent of anger from users who felt AT&T was playing the role of digital censor. Launched in 2003, 4chan's message board has become notorious in some circles for its content, which users can post anonymously. founder Christopher "Moot" Poole wrote July 26 that AT&T had not contacted him about its actions, and urged 4chan users to contact customer support and complain about the move. Some are speculating that some users may have taken it a step further, as not long after news of the block became public, a fake report about the death of AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson surfaced on CNN's iReport. The story has since been removed.

At least one other ISP-UnWired Broadband-joined AT&T in blocking portions of the site.

"There [have] been a lot of customers on our network who were complaining about ACK scan reports coming from," Shon Elliott, senior network engineer at UnWired, wrote on the NANOG (North American Network Operators Group) message board. "We had no choice but to block that single IP until the attacks let up."