AT&T Changes Internet Privacy Policy

AT&T changed its privacy policy on Friday to state that it owns customer account information for Internet and video services. The new policy makes it clear that the subscriber information it tracks can be turned over to law enforcement agencies.

From the new policy: "While your account information may be personal to you, these records constitute business records that are owned by AT&T. As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process."

AT&T company spokesperson, Tiffany Nels, told InfoWorld "These policies clarify long-standing AT&T policy. We eliminated a lot of the legalese and used a lot of plain English."

Sherwin Sly, staff counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, says that new wording clarifies what AT&T was already doing, and that it does nothing to protect subscribers. ""Even a privacy policy that may look good in the abstract, if itis sufficiently vague and itis not specific in how it provides protection for consumers, really does nothing other than provide the company with a way out of taking responsibility for the uses of customer information."

The companyis privacy policy applies to Internet services, including AT&T/Yahoo DSL. It also broadens the policy coverage to include the new U-verse and Homezone broadband Internet and television services.

AT&Tis;policy changes go into effect just as it heads back to court over a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The civil rights organization claims that AT&T turned over private subscriber records to the National Security Agency with out a court order.

Subscribers are agreeing to the new policy simply by continuing to use AT&T broadband services. The video services launch in September, and customers will have to sign an agreement during installation.