It seems that everyday we are hearing more about spying on our personal conversations, our Internet usage and the like. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that some internet providers are spying on what their customers are doing with their Internet service. In particular, AT&T is one internet provider that is really taking their spying to a new level.
Those who are AT & T Internet customers will notice that there is a charge on their bill for privacy. For many this is a $29 privacy protection fee. However, many others who are from around the United States are reporting prices higher than $50 per month for this service.
According to TechTimes, AT&T is collecting several bits of information. Including information about which websites the person visits, how much time they spend on a website, what searches the person does, and so forth. All of this is done in an effort to ensure that each person is getting ads that are geared towards what they may be searching for. Furthermore, even if a person were to turn on the Do Not Track feature, and other privacy options, AT&T can still see what they are doing.
Stanford University, computer scientist Jonathan Mayer stated:
“AT&T’s additional charge to protect privacy is worrisome and seems like “a huge penalty intended to normalize the practice” of tracking customers’ browsing habits, given that AT&T is in a position to perform comprehensive tracking.”
AT&T does not seem to find anything wrong with the way that they are doing business. In those areas in which AT&T provides Internet service, those who opt for the standard package are actually paying more for what they are getting, including privacy protection. Those who get the upgraded package don’t get privacy but they pay less. AT&T has stated:
“We can offer a lower price to customers participating in AT&T Internet Preferences because advertisers will pay us for the opportunity to deliver relevant advertising and offers tailored to our customer’s interest”
Actually, AT&T is comparing itself to Amazon. Amazon does have a Kindle that is lower in price, but has advertisements included with it. The key difference is that Amazon is not spying on its customers to find out what they are doing. AT&T cannot say this, when they have admitted that this is how they get certain advertisements to people.
The Internet is abuzz with tons of people who are protesting this action of AT&T. Giagom, a market intelligence website, created an article on this very topic. Writer Stacey Higginbotham put it best by stating:
“I see a company that has little competition, manipulating consumers into choosing to give up their privacy.”
The President and Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Inforamtion Center in Washington, Marc Rotenberg stated:
“…loopholes in communication regulation allow AT&T and other ISPs to get around the law.”
At this point in time, if you are one of the areas in which AT&T is giving this sort of Internet options, then you can choose to pay extra for your privacy, in essence paying for protection from AT&T themselves, or you can choose not to pay and let the company know everything about your Internet browsing habits. The options are slim and either one is going to irritate consumers.