Shedding Light on a Few Things

Posted by: Bob Quinn on November 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm

A little over a year ago, AT&T’s unwieldy privacy policy, which actually numbered 17 different policies, and came in at 37,000-plus words, was shrunk to one policy, at a more svelte 8,000’ish words.

I tell you this because, as some of you know, the duties of chief privacy officer were added to my day job about two months ago.  And our priority is to continue to build upon the success and leadership we have forged under my missed predecessor Dorothy Attwood in giving consumers more control over their personal information.

The first step for living up to a consumer control framework is to be vigilant about telling consumers, in clear language, what information we have about them, how it is being used and shared, and how we protect their information.  To that end, today we are updating our privacy policy with some further clarifications about our practices.

As we did with the initial launch, we will preview the updated policy for 45 days to gather feedback from our customers before it goes into effect.  Based on that feedback, we may further refine the policy.

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TOPICS: Privacy
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Helping Families Stay Safe Online

Posted by: Brent Olson on November 16, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Last week, we launched our new Smart Controls website in conjunction with the Fourth Annual Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) Conference.   While my colleague highlighted all the great tools the new site has in place to help consumers manage their bills, I want to follow-up by pointing out its broader significance for parents and families.

Smart Controls includes tools for parents to help make sure their families are safe whether they are using our broadband, TV or mobile services.  The site combines easy-to-find information about AT&T’s own safety and control tools with access to resources from a wide range of third party experts, all under a single online portal that makes it simple for our customers to find what they need quickly and efficiently.  Check it out here.

I, along with my colleague, Jeff Brueggeman, had the pleasure of not only attending but speaking at the FOSI Conference, which was held in Washington, D.C.  Jeff appeared on a panel focused on privacy and the unique issues facing parents and families with new location-based services.  My panel focused on the mobile future and its broader impact on kids and online safety.  

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Virtue Lies in the Middle Ground

Posted by: Joan Marsh on November 12, 2010 at 3:31 pm

This week, Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, gave a much anticipated speech before the European Summit on the Open Internet and Net Neutrality.  Taking stock of the debate thus far, Vice President Kroes outlined the important pillars of her policy judgment on net neutrality.

She stressed the importance of avoiding regulation that might deter investment and efficient use of available resources.  She cited the need for investment to avoid bottlenecks and allow for the development of new bandwidth-hungry services and applications.  To deter that investment through unnecessary regulation “would be cutting off our noses to spite our face.”

In addition, Vice President Kroes recognized that effective traffic management is essential – not only to optimize the “best effort” services prevalent on the Internet today, but to allow for the development of the type of specialized services that will enhance the value of the Internet in the 21st century.

She further recognized the power of the marketplace to police provider conduct, encouraging consumers to leave mobile providers who limit their choices. 

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Reinventing the Edsel

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on November 12, 2010 at 10:17 am

Among its many recommendations, the National Broadband Plan recommended that the FCC “encourage transitions to IP-to-IP interconnection where that is the most efficient approach.” Last week, COMPTEL advised the FCC that the way to achieve this objective is to apply the same rules to IP-to-IP interconnection as apply to interconnection on the public telephone network, aka PSTN. Unless the Commission wants to impose on IP networks the various inefficiencies, disputes and arbitrage schemes that plague the PSTN, it should decline this invitation to import the logic of calling party network pays to IP networks.

Did I really just write “calling party network pays” in a blog? Well, yeah, I suppose I did.  So, unless you’re in the mood for some wonkery, now might be a good time to check out what’s going on with the Facebook-Google smackdown or check in on the discussion around whether cable-cutting is mainstream or just for dog food lovers.

But, if you are still with me…and are asking yourself, “Hank, what’s so wrong with imposing PSTN interconnection rules on IP networks?  I mean, after all, it’s just a technology change, right?  Did Major League Baseball get rid of the infield fly rule when lights, artificial turf, or those goofy relief pitcher cars were brought into the game?”

Well, no, but this isn’t “just a technology change.”  It’s about moving to broadband, digital IP networks where voice is a data application – and a relatively low bandwidth one at that.

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Knowledge is Power

Posted by: Joan Marsh on November 9, 2010 at 3:57 pm

At AT&T, we believe control of wireless products and services should be in the hands of our customers.  We believe that customers should understand what fees they will incur when they use their devices.  And we believe we need to provide our customers with the tools they need to understand their usage and manage their monthly bill.

Last month, Chairman Genachowski announced the FCC’s Consumer Empowerment Agenda – a campaign to ensure that all Americans have the tools they need to take advantage of new technologies.  As the Chairman recognized, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a consumer of communications technologies.  But every new gadget and gizmo brings with it new complexities and challenges, and consumers can become confused and overwhelmed.

So today, we’re introducing the new AT&T Smart Controls Website – a one-stop online destination dedicated to providing AT&T customers with safety and control tools and resources.  We can truly say that the inspiration for this easy-to-use site came from our customers.  Their input has resulted in an online location that helps them to use and manage their technology choices in a safe and effective way.

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