AT&T (NYSE: T) may be offering customers the option to purchase its 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) service in cities like Kansas City, Mo., on a standalone basis for $70, but that low price comes with a catch: The telco will track users' Web surfing activity.
In order to keep the telco from tracking their web activity, consumers will have to shell out an additional $29 a month, meaning the service will jump to nearly $100 a month.
Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford University computer scientist who focuses on online monitoring technology, told The Wall Street Journal that the additional charge "seems like a huge penalty intended to normalize the practice" of tracking.
An AT&T spokeswoman told WSJ that the GigaPower privacy option is not a charge to people who decided to not have their web activity tracked, but rather a discount to those who did not choose the option.
"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 interests," she said.
While Google and Facebook offer customers free service by agreeing to get access to their personal data, the two companies don't ask users to pay to not be tracked.
Under its current structure, AT&T's GigaPower $70 a month option looks at the search terms that a user enters, web pages visited and what links they clicked on during their browsing sessions. AT&T said that is uses the data it collects from these customers to help advertisers better direct their ads on web pages, email messages or direct mail.
- WSJ has this article
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