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Privacy and How to Lose It
Google and AT&T high-speed Internet services may seem like a bargain, but what are they costing consumers in privacy?
I live in Kansas City, which was the first city selected by Google to roll out the Google Fiber service that offers Gigabit Internet connections and TV for (often) less than what other providers charged for 15MB Internet and TV. I have seen Google Fiber signs in front of many residential houses during the deployment, and now they have a small business offering.
One of the big local news stories this week is AT&T's announcement that it will be offering its new U-verse with GigaPower service, with features and pricing that are quite similar to the Google offerings.
Already, Google Fiber's presence in the marketplace has caused other cable providers to lower their prices. With the addition of AT&T's new services, competition will escalate. Most of the news stories focus on the angle that competition is great for consumers, basically telling us all how lucky we are.
But the news articles don't talk about the loss of privacy.
Below is information from the privacy policies for both companies (or should they be called "lack of privacy" policies?). Information has truly become a currency of its own, and as the saying goes , 'If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold'.
While competition usually is good for the consumer, we all need to understand that our monthly payments to these companies are only the beginning of the revenues they gain from us.
Here is more detail on the information that they collect and how they use it:
According to Ars Technica, "AT&T charges an additional $29 a month to customers who opt out of AT&T's 'Internet Preferences' program." AT&T says, "We can offer you our best pricing on GigaPower because you let us use your individual Web browsing information, like the search terms you enter and the Web pages you visit, to tailor ads and offers to your interests."
The information gathered through your service use includes:
Still think these services are a bargain?
"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communication technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.