updated 1/23/2008 10:30:56 AM ET 2008-01-23T15:30:56

AT&T Inc. may begin monitoring traffic over its online network in an effort to stamp out theft of copyrighted material, its chief executive said Wednesday.

CEO Randall Stephenson told a conference at the World Economic Forum that the company was still evaluating what it would do about peer-to-peer networks, one of the largest drivers of online traffic but also a common way to illegally exchange copyright files.

"It's like being in a store and watching someone steal a DVD. Do you act?" Stephenson asked.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said earlier this month it would investigate complaints that Comcast Corp. actively interferes with Internet traffic as its subscribers try to share files online.

A coalition of consumer groups and legal scholars asked the agency last year to stop Comcast from discriminating against certain types of data. Companies are also rushing to utilize peer-to-peer file sharing for legal distribution of video and game content.

Stephenson said he still sees value in peer-to-peer networks despite some problems.

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