AT&T Making It Even Harder For You To Protect Your Privacy

by David Lazarus, Los Angeles TImes

att-logo 320 x 192In completing his company’s $49-billion acquisition of DirecTV last month, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said it was “all about giving customers more choices.”

He meant entertainment and service choices, but he could just as easily have been referring to the myriad of decisions customers will encounter if they seek to protect their privacy.

Instead of using the DirecTV deal as an opportunity to simplify its privacy policy, AT&T has created a more challenging process for opting out of marketing pitches from the company and its partners and for escaping AT&T’s watchful gaze as you traverse the Internet.

This is a problem at all telecom companies. As the tentacles of these gargantuan firms extend ever further, safeguarding what little privacy you may enjoy becomes an increasingly complicated task.

Deirdre Mulligan, an associate professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, said telecom companies seem to have made it deliberately tough for customers to opt out of marketing schemes and having their personal data shared.

“There’s a desire among these companies to protect as much opportunity as they have to market to people,” she said. “They know that how complicated a privacy policy is, how it’s presented, can create barriers to opting out.”

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