Torrentfreak has reported that AT&T developed a patent for a ‘Real-time content detection in ISP transmissions” over a year ago. The system is able to track users in real-time and detect pirated data transfers. The system can then either disable the internet of the culprits and/or report them to copyright holders or the police. Internet providers will be able to share information about pirated files across a central database. There’s currently no indication of their intention to implement the system.
“The present invention thus can be seen to have many advantages: it is capable of identifying likely incidents of illicit content transmission, such as piracy of copyrighted material, confirming the presence of such content, and then taking action while preserving the privacy of those ISP customers who have no association with copyright infringement.” (Page 8, Section 4, Line 22 of the Patent)