Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

AT&T = Market-Totalitarian Spyware

eye spy Walter Brasch said it well: “The government’s knowledge of the lives of individuals is little more than the equivalent to a children’s coloring book compared to the library that private companies have on everyone.”

Today, AT&T — the corporation that employs unfunny, phony kindergartners acting scriptedly silly to make the radically false claim that its services are somehow better than those of its fellow bloated, crappy, vastly overpriced, marketing-intensive capitalist telecom oligopolies — admitted it is plunging fully into the private spying game. Per Engadget:

In an update on its Public Policy Blog, AT&T disclosed that it may [TCT ed: "may" -- ROFL!] begin selling anonymous user data to retailers and marketers, with the end goal being “to deliver more relevant advertising to… customers.” The carrier is far from the first to sell aggregate information — here’s looking at you, Verizon — but the provider is unique in combining data on TV, WiFi and wireless usage. The company said it could also provide aggregate info about users’ app usage and U-Verse info.

Also notable in the new privacy policy: AT&T notes that it could sell information about individual users, with the stipulation that the data would still be kept anonymous, and media research companies would only be able to use that info in aggregate reports. While this is hardly a case of AT&T pushing new privacy boundaries, users can opt out of the program.

For any souls unlucky enough — ala your faithful TCT editor — to labor under this particular profit fief, here is the home for opting out.

(Behold the difficulty of many of the “available” opt-outs!)

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Posted by Michael Dawson | Filed in A Culture of..., Bad Products, Data Scraping, market totalitarianism


4 Responses to “AT&T = Market-Totalitarian Spyware”

  1. July 3rd, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Marla Singer said:

    I just saw a recent paper (which I am too lazy to look up), that showed that meta-data containing only location information over a period of time (basically trajectories) is sufficient to identify unique individuals with >90% certainty.

  2. July 3rd, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Michael Dawson said:

    Yep, Marla. And yet the eager beavers writing on the tech blogs continue to indulge the preposterous claim that these corporations start respecting privacy at the exact moment it’s most profitable to ignore it…

  3. July 3rd, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Marla Singer said:

    Yep :(, and here is the actual paper:

    http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130325/srep01376/full/srep01376.html

  4. July 3rd, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    High Arka said:

    Like the Great Census, or the “warranty registration” cards, it’s time to buy AT&T phones, then write apps which keep the phones spending 24 hours a day browsing:

    1) Inuit cultural history websites;

    2) Bulk raspberry jam suppliers;

    3) Modern public nudity statutes, and enforcement rates, state by state;

    4) Body image counseling support services.

    The art form is called “mass commercial directorship.” After Superbowl ads begin featuring fat naked Eskimos hurling jam at each other atop the latest gas-efficient car, call it a victory and disassemble the phones.



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