AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) To Raise Privacy Concerns With Proposed Targeted Advertising Campaign

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is planning to take targeted advertising to another new level with plans to track and monetize internet activities of its broadband customers. Under the new arrangement, AT&T will track the web pages that customers visit, the amount of time spent on each as well as the link or ads that one gets to see and follow.

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The new scheme will launch in select cities when AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) launches its super-fast Gigabit broadband service. Users will not be able to block the tracking as well as the ad targeting associated, with the use of browser privacy settings. The program runs independent, of user’s privacy settings with regards to cookies.

In practice, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) will be performing the controversial ‘deep packet inspection’ that internet providers by virtue of their position use to monitor the internet traffic of their subscribers. If a customer does not want to be spied on, in this case, he will be allowed to opt out for $29 fee per month. Charging extra fee for such a service is expected to come with its own ramifications considering subscribers on the lower rungs of the income ladder may decide to opt out all together from the offer as they won’t afford it.

Many advocates have always argued that privacy should not be reserved for the rich; moreover it is not even clear what gigabit subscribers will get when they pay the additional $29 additional fees. AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) may still collect and use the web browsing information for other purposes as described in the privacy policy. The inadequacy of competition in the broadband market may force many customers to agree on the new terms regardless of whether they are infringing on their privacy rights due to a lack of other services to jump to.

A possible solution to the AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) dilemma is users opting to channel their traffic through an encryption such as a VPN service. This should allow them to bypass the packet of inspection thus preserving their privacy.

About the Author

Coper graduated from the University of Chicagi with majors in political science and journalism.

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