T-Mobile CEO apologises for foul-mouthed tirade against EFF

T-Mobile CEO John Legere has apologised for a profanity-laden tirade directed at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in which saw he asked the digital rights group "who the f*ck are you anyway?".

Legere's rant comes after EFF criticised a T-Mobile move to allow customers to watch videos from certain providers such as Netflix and Hulu without eating into their mobile data allowance.

This service, called Binge On, and available for free, was supposedly enabled by optimising' video streams and scaling them back to a lower bitrate, which translated to a resolution of around 480p.

A report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, however, accused T-Mobile of throttling all of the video content passing through its network.

Rather than altering the content in any way, the telco confirmed that it just slashed the amount of available bandwidth to around 1.5Mbps.

This happened "even when the phone is capable of downloading at higher speeds, and regardless of whether or not the video provider enrolled in Binge On".

It also affected videos being downloaded for later viewing, or saved to another device via tethering.

Certain services, like Netflix, can adapt to changing bandwidth and reduce stream quality on-the-fly. Others cannot, resulting in stuttering video and repeated buffering.

"It's pretty obvious that throttling all traffic based on application type definitely violates the principles of net neutrality," the EFF wrote.

It also stated: "This is a significant consumer harm that runs afoul of well-established open internet principles."

Legere, however, was quick to respond to the accusations, refuting them in a video posted on Twitter.

"There are people out there who are saying we're throttling'. That's a game of semantics, and it's bullsh*t. That's not what we're doing," he said.

Instead, he claimed that by being able to opt-out, customers remained in control. He also claimed that "mobile customers often don't want or need full, heavy, giant video data files".

Legere was also critical of the "special interest groups" who were raising objections to the feature.

"We give customers more choices, and these jerks are complaining? Who the hell do they think they are?" he asked

In a direct response to one of the most active and widely known online rights organisations, he asked "who the f*ck are you anyway, EFF? Why are you stirring up so much trouble, and who pays you?"

Legere was widely ridiculed for his outbursts, and has since apologised for any offence caused to the organisation and its supporters in an open letter.

He also reaffirmed his company's commitment to the principles of net neutrality. "T-Mobile is a company that absolutely supports Net Neutrality and we believe in an open and free Internet," he wrote. "That is who we are. It's what we do. It will never change."

He refused to apologise for the outbursts themselves though, saying "I don't filter myself, and you know that no one at T-Mobile filters me either but I'm not going to apologise for that."

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.