AT&T recently announced plans to start selling anonymized customer data to advertisers. Heck, if the government gets it, why shouldn't advertisers have it too, amiright? Up here! ::highfive::
After all, why should Facebook, Google, and Verizon get to have all the fun parting us out to the highest bidder? If God had intended for us to have privacy, she wouldn't have invented money. lolprivacyburn! ::highfive::
I joke because if I don't, I'll puke.
AT&T says it anonymizes and/or aggregates the data. In theory this means it can't be traced to individuals, but forgive us if we have a skeptical attitude about yet another company looking to profit off of our personal data.
If this little development makes you as cranky as it makes me, you'll want to know how to opt-out, which AT&T was gracious enough to grant us. Never mind that, A.) this practice is absolute bull$&!#, and B.) that it should be opt-in if it's going to exist at all.
Fortunately, our friends at BGR noted that the opt-out mechanism went live today. Hit that link, log in to your AT&T account (you'll need your phone number and online password), and you'll get something that looks like this:
If you have more than one phone number on your account, they'll all be listed. Check the "Check to Out-out" check box, and then Submit. You'll then be taken to this page:
Manage Your Privacy Choices
U.S. corporations have lost their way on privacy, and U.S. regulators have let them. There is a lot of good that a corporation with huge resources can do with user data, but this business of profiting on it by merely selling it is repugnant.
Location services make our mapping apps work; geotagging on photos is useful and cool; Google Now proactively finds information that we might need or want based on our personal information; showing us things we might find interesting based on our shopping or likes by comparing it to other people's data is very useful; and to be honest, even targeted advertising has its benefits to us, the consumer.
There are many more examples of how companies can use personal information to provide us with better services, but I am sick to death of companies who profit by compiling profiles on us that would make George Orwell blush and then auction them off to the highest bidder.
In AT&T's case, there is no better services argument. This is simply about AT&T making more money off us, its supposed customers. We don't get anything out of it, and it does not benefit us.