The gentleman pictured right is Thomas J. Tauke, executive vice president for public affairs at Verizon. He may look like the love child of Don Rickles and Voyager’s “Doctor”, but just at this moment he looks like a hero to me.

“Hollywood” (by which the New York Times means “the entertainment industry”) has been asking the big players in home internet service to “stand alongside them in their fight against online piracy” (by which they mean “monitor what your customers download and tattle on ’em if it’s our music and movies”).

The big players in home internet service, for their part, have seen where their civic duty lies (by which I mean “quake in fear of Congressional oversight bought and paid for by the entertainment industry”). Comcast is reportedly going so far as to actually alter the data the user thinks he’s downloading with the intent of making torrented (by which they mean “illegal”) material download so slowly that it won’t be worth the time.

“AT&T …is talking about developing a system that would identify and block illicitly copied material being sent over its broadband network,” says the Times. By which AT&T means “We still remember what happened the last time somebody said ‘boo’ to us.” Or, more succinctly, “You got it, boss.”

But Verizon, through its spokesman Mr Tauke, says this: “We generally are reluctant to get into the business of examining content that flows across our networks and taking some action as a result of that content.” By which, surprisingly enough, he appears to mean “No.”

Yes, there’s a healthy percentage of self-interest in his reasons. But at least the customer’s privacy is on the list. It may not be the reason, but it’s a reason.

(See also the Consumerist.)