Don’t like AT&T’s new plan to sell your information? You can opt out!

July 6, 2013 - Written By Christopher Heidt

A few days ago, FierceWireless reported that AT&T was preparing a change to their Privacy Policy that will allow the company to sell their customer’s information.  This information will include your wireless and Wi-Fi locations, U-verse usage, web browsing, mobile app usage, and “other information”.  While this might rub some, if not most, people the wrong way, the wireless giant did promise that they are “committed to protecting your privacy” and that they will never “sell information that identifies you to anyone”.

In order to help people understand what Ma Bell is doing, Forbes has posted an article detailing the new policy, why AT&T says it has decided to do it, and even how you can opt out of the new plan (I’ll give you a hint: go here).  They also announced back in October of last year that Verizon Wireless had quietly changed their privacy policy to do the same thing.  This is becoming more and more common these days, as a person’s smartphone is a treasure trove of information.  Just think: it knows what apps you use, how often you are online, what kind of sites you visit, what kinds of things you buy and from where, where you work, when you sleep, etc.  This kind of information allows companies to know just what kind of product you are most likely to purchase in a way that it never has been able to before.  The question is, is this necessarily a bad thing?

Of course, we as Americans are all about protecting our privacy.  In fact, to not do so is almost un-American!  I get that, and I back it 100 percent.  What I want to do is to get at this thing from different angles, and to see if there is any benefit to us as consumers.  To be sure, we don’t want what we would consider ‘sensitive information’ to get into anyone’s hands that we don’t necessarily trust or know, such as Social Security or credit card numbers.  To have a company like AT&T address that from the start, and make the promise that it will always protect such information, is good customer relations and just all around good business.  On the flip side, the information that they are seeking to sell is more general and anonymous information, and this would in turn be sold to businesses that are seeking to provide products and services that you might want and need.  This both makes the company that we trust as our provider money, and it leads to the ads that we do see on our phones, tablets and PCs to be for things that we would more likely use.  Otherwise, you have a Whopper lover being bombarded by McDonald’s ads, and who would want that?

Do you agree?  Disagree?  Could care less?  Sound off down below.