AT&T’s New Privacy Policy Codifies Snooping

AT&T: Your world delivered. To the NSA.They’ve updated their policy to give them every legal right to hand your data and phone records over to the government goons without a warrant (via Boing Boing):

The new policy says that AT&T — not customers — owns customers’ confidential info and can use it “to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process.” The policy also indicates that AT&T will track the viewing habits of customers of its new video service — something that cable and satellite providers are prohibited from doing.

Moreover, AT&T (formerly known as SBC) is requiring customers to agree to its updated privacy policy as a condition for service — a new move that legal experts say will reduce customers’ recourse for any future data sharing with government authorities or others.

The company’s policy overhaul follows recent reports that AT&T was one of several leading telecom providers that allowed the National Security Agency warrantless access to its voice and data networks as part of the Bush administration’s war on terror.

It’s pretty sad that they care so little about their customers (I’m one of them) and the public image of aiding big brother in spying on us that they’ve made this kind of bold move. From a business standpoint, this is bound to hit their bottom line as conscientious customers head for the door. Then again, the NSA might be paying them for all this information.

Sadly, even if the Electronic Frontier Foundation wins their lawsuit, it won’t mean much going forward.

13 Comments
  1. Stephen wrote: “I’m one of them”

    Don’t you mean you WERE one of them? What’s holding you back from switching?

  2. I won’t do business with AT&T, and I won’t do business with Verizon. Fortunately in much of New Hampshire, you don’t have to use Verizon or AT&T. (I currently have this company now, and the service is great.)

  3. Yup… but what’s to stop them from paying verizon, cingular, etc etc.

    The alternatives will also get bought out by the government… and the hold outs will not be allowed to use their networks and thus cost shitloads of money.

    Such bullshit

  4. jnice: It’s part of the rent and my roommate chooses to use SBC/Yahoo because they are cheap ($15/mo). I wouldn’t be surprised if the carriers also passed similar new TOS papers to those who buy access to their leased lines, anyways.

    The flip side is that I only use VOIP for my calls (Skype), and I highly doubt the NSA has the capabilities to mine the vast amount of internet data that AT&T has access to.

    If I wanted to surf anonymously anyways, I could just walk to the coffee shop and use their wireless.

  5. Doubt not. I could probably mine the vast amount of Internet data that AT&T has access to, if I had access to their backbone. And we’re pretty sure at this point that NSA is plugged right into AT&T’s backbone at certain critical points.

  6. The truth is that anything that is sent in any form can be intercepted by someone, and in many cases is done by either NSA/CIA/FBI or ATT, etc. Bottom line: we’re not safe, period. It doesn’t matter if you have anything to hide or not, someone is spying on you no matter what.

  7. boycotts and service switching does nothing to change policy unless the AT&T is informed as to WHY you discontinue service. Write those letters, people!

  8. Why not have a web site which sends an automated letter to AT&T with your account information instructing them to discontinue service? The site can get your authorization to act as your registered agent.

    It can also benefit another carrier who pledges not to share your information.

    The letter can say “Dear AT&T, such and such web site as my agent hereby instructs you that your service contract with me is terminated due to your anti-privacy policies. I am switching to New Telecom Provider because of your egregious breach of trust and my privacy.”

    A smart telecom provider would not only guarantee policy but sponsor the web site as a marketing move. 100,000 new sign-ups would be easy as pie.

  9. Steven

    The whole point is that the NSA “extra rooms” in AT&T NOCs are for DATA. Voice is handled by the FBI. And yes, I’m almost positive that there’s a RSA cracker poring over the data as well, so encryption won’t help

  10. Of course there’s always encryption.

    But I admit I’m too lazy to deal with coordinating it.