NBC executive: Web filtering will reduce piracy 'tidal wave'

Internet service providers should have the right to filter web traffic for illegal content to cut down on piracy, NBC General Counsel Rick Cotton said today.

Cotton said more protections need to be put in place to prevent the "tidal wave" of pirated and illegally downloaded material flying around the web.

"The ISP community is coming to that recognition," he said. "We need them to be authorized to take those measures. The specific techniques they use are the second part."

When asked about whether filtering web content would violate web users' privacy, he said, "Does a virus filter violate privacy?"

"The question is what is an appropriate sanction" for illegally downloading copyrighted materials "in terms of throttling people back," he said.

NBC is in the process of being acquired by Comcast, the largest residential Internet service provider in the country. The deal still needs regulatory approval before going forward. Cotton's support for web filtering technology could be an indication that the combined company will embrace new methods of traffic inspection.

Cotton is also Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center, which is pushing the Obama administration to deliver a National Intellectual Property Plan to Congress by summer.