The company says that its actions were solely based on sound network management practices and have nothing to do with objecting to content posted on the img.4chan.org message boards. The block was first reported Sunday, when AT&T subscribers found they could not access certain portions of the 4chan.org bulletin boards. The block was lifted late last night after AT&T determined that "the denial-of-service threat no longer existed" and said it would continue to monitor the situation.
AT&T's decision to block portions of the site caused a flurry of angry commentary from users who speculated that the carrier was blocking the site due to its content.
Adding to the confusion was 4chan.org founder Christopher "Moot" Poole statement that as of yesterday AT&T hadn't contacted him about its reasons for blocking parts of his site. Poole also advised 4chan users to "call or write customer support and corporate immediately" to complain about the blocking.
AT&T's statement on the blocking is notable because it tries to directly refute accusations that it blocks access to Web sites based on their content. Erling Løken Andersen, the CEO of the Norwegian social networking site Biip.no, got the ball rolling Sunday when he speculated that that AT&T was "firing one of the first shots in the net neutrality war" by blocking the site.
Meanwhile, the Tech Herald reported that several users took AT&T's actions to be related to network neutrality and not related to legitimate network management concerns.
Net neutrality is the principle that ISPs should not be allowed to block or degrade Internet traffic from their competitors in order to speed up their own. The major telcos have uniformly opposed net neutrality by arguing that such government intervention would take away ISPs' incentives to upgrade their networks, thus stalling the widespread deployment of broadband Internet.