“Pay for Privacy” Model Discontinued by AT&T

In August, there was quite a stir when United States telco provider Comcast asserted they should be able to charge users more for privacy, endorsing a business model in which privacy is a “luxury” and comes at an additional cost to the consumer. AT&T had been enacting a similar model, charging their Gigapower Internet customers extra money ($30 USD) to opt-out of online tracking. To achieve the lowest price for service, AT&T users were subjected to data collection for use in targeting ads. This practice, often referred to as “snoopvertising,” forced customers to sacrifice their privacy if they wished to pay the lowest rate. AT&T announced this week they’ll be ending this business model, and will offer their lowest price to all customers. Additionally, they report that “data collection and targeted ads will also be shut off.”

At Golden Frog, we believe everyone should have equal access to online privacy, regardless of the price paid for service. We also believe that customers deserve transparency into when data collection is occurring, how it is occurring and the ways in which their personal information is being used. As we previously explored, many providers in the privacy space (and other spaces) collect user data in order to make a profit – oftentimes without their customers knowing. You can learn more about these practices in our article “You Are the Product: The Price of Free in the Growing Privacy Industry.”

Sources: Ars Technica and Fortune