Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"AT&T Ends Snooping Program, Stops Charging Internet Users Extra For Privacy"

From Consumerist, Sept 30:
AT&T offers GigaPower subscribers in several cities two options: pay $70 for your connection and get your data snooped on, or keep your privacy and pay $99. The company has regularly defended the program from critics, and claimed that it’s basically the wave of the future. And yet today, seemingly out of nowhere, A&T has suddenly announced that it will be dropping the option nationwide, and charging all consumers the same — lower — price.

Ars Technica reports today that AT&T has confirmed it is, indeed, scrapping the program.
We have to admit, we’re pretty surprised — in a good way, to be sure. As recently as yesterday we were writing stories about AT&T executives lamenting the uneven playing field if they are not allowed to do as they like with your data.

The company first launched Internet Preferences in 2013. When it brought GigaPower service to the area, it told customers they could get service for as little as $70 per month — if subscribers let AT&T snoop on their internet use history and sell that data for targeted advertising. Customers who opted to keep their private data private were charged $99, about 40% more....MORE
As techdirt noted, this is not done altruistically:
from the privacy-is-a-luxury-option dept
...Why the sudden AT&T about-face? While AT&T claims it's just concerned about "simplicity," the real reason is because the FCC is considering some basic privacy protections for broadband users, who often can't vote against bad behavior with their wallet thanks to the lack of competition in the broadband space. AT&T's decision to issue a surcharge for privacy was one of the primary reasons the FCC began the privacy rulemaking proceeding. AT&T's lobbyists and lawyers clearly hope that if they eliminate this controversial program, they'll be more easily able to argue that broadband privacy rules aren't necessary.... 
Comcast Tells The FCC It Should Be Able To Charge Broadband Users A Premium For Privacy
Having stipulated that privacy has a value now we're just talking price.

She: What kind of woman do you think I am?
He: We’ve already established that. Now we’re just haggling over the price.
-attributed to: George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Groucho Marx, Mark Twain, W.C. Fields, Bertrand Russell, H.G. Wells, Woodrow Wilson...