Momentum behind AT&T protest grows to point of becoming pointless

There's a growing effort behind a protest against AT&T and its shoddy wireless service. But is such an effort even necessary, seeing how AT&T has received the message loud and clear.

Have you heard about Fake Steve Jobs and this online protest against AT&T?

A few days ago, a blog post on Dan Lyons' The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog called for iPhone users to join in a protest that would bring AT&T's network to its knees, a message from iPhone users that they're tired of the sub-par service (but still love the phone.) The plan was for iPhone users to all simultaneously launch a data-heavy application - maybe stream a video - on their iPhones over AT&T's 3G network for one hour, beginning at 12 Noon Pacific Time this Friday, Dec. 18.

Obviously, it was supposed to be a joke - but the idea took off on its own, with word spreading on Twitter and Facebook, which is now a group with more than 2,000 fans. AT&T event sent a note to the Cult of Mac blog, calling the protest effort "irresponsible and pointless." AT&T, however, didn't call it illegal.

After all, how is this any different from an organized Denial of Service attack involving hacked bots? Just because real people are the bots instead of hijacked PCs and the attack is on a mobile data network instead of a specific domain name, doesn't change things. In fact, couldn't this be considered an act of terrorism? After all, AT&T runs a communications network and organized attempts to disable it might fall under one of those anti-terrorism laws.

Even Fake Steve recognizes that this particular effort isn't the right approach. He writes in a follow-up blog post with the headline "Is Operation Chokehold illegal? Or just stupid? Should we do something else?":

I really don’t want to cause any actual harm to my fellow AT&T users. Quite the opposite — I feel as if we’re all caught in the same horrible prison, suffering alongside one another. All we really want to do is to show AT&T how angry people are about their lousy service. A nice spike of traffic would be a way to make that known.

He suggests, based on reader feedback, that maybe the hour-long flash mob be limited to 15 minutes. He also suggests that Operation Silent Scream calls for all users to turn off their phones at the same time - but does that do anything? The final suggestion is to form an actual protest outside a store, perhaps in San Francisco, to make a physical statement.

At this point, I don't think it matters. Getting a response from AT&T - even if just to call the effort "pointless and irresponsible" - was good enough. Wasn't the idea just to send a message that would be received. Obviously, it's been received. The other part of the goal was to get some publicity, right?

So, here ya go: yet another blog post that says AT&T's service sucks. Like I've never written one of those before.

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