A Small Bit on Broadband

Posted by: Jim Cicconi on February 26, 2010 at 1:08 pm

There was a lot of activity this week surrounding the FCC’s broadband plan.  FCC Chairman Genachowski has been very busy, but he found time last night to accept the prestigious Newt Minow Award at the Kennedy Center.

The Kennedy Center must have been hopping last night as there was also a ballet performance of The Great Gatsby.  I was at neither event unfortunately, but I do want to take a minute today to remark on one of the Chairman’s announcements this week.

It is encouraging that Chairman Genachowski has identified spectrum availability as a major near-term challenge.  He’s absolutely right, and should be commended for his willingness to tackle the issue head on and make it a top priority of his chairmanship. At AT&T, we are already dealing with phenomenal increases in mobile data use — a whopping 5,000 percent over the last three years. Such usage patterns cannot be sustained without bold action to address the looming spectrum crunch, and that is exactly what FCC Chairman Genachowski has promised.

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Should You Be Concerned if Your Child’s New BFF Asks Her to TDTM and GNOC to eventually MIRL?

Posted by: Brent Olson on February 25, 2010 at 9:46 am

If you’re not sure about what I just wrote, you’re not alone.  According to Donna Rice Hughes, President of online safety organization Enough is Enough, too many parents don’t know either.   That’s why she developed the Internet Safety 101SM program for parents and educators, which was officially released last week at a national press conference (AT&T was one of the sponsors of the program), and where she warned parents about the lingo predators use to entice children, like the example above.

The 101 program is a kit of sorts: a DVD teaching series, workbook and website to help educate and empower adults about online safety.  Its “old school” use of technology, using DVDs and even paper, is purposeful because it’s directed at those parents and caregivers least comfortable with today’s digital world.

But its contents are anything but “old school.”  The program teaches parents and caregivers not only how kids are using today’s technology, but what they are doing with it.  The program uses real-life examples to personalize the issues kids are dealing with and to give parents a candid and honest assessment of the challenges they may face.  While it can be uncomfortable at times, ultimately the program is not about creating new fear in parents and caregivers, but instead it’s about empowering them to help their kids be safe while still embracing all the extraordinary benefits of the Internet and 21st century technology.

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When you can’t spot the product, then you ARE the product

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

By Ellen Blackler, AT&T Executive Director – Public Policy

If the customer is always right, it matters a lot if you are the customer or the product.

I have been shaking my head over Google’s introduction of BUZZ wondering how they could have misread the privacy interests so badly. What were they thinking?  Surely any even half-hearted attempt at a privacy impact assessment or rudimentary customer testing would have led them to the conclusion that you can’t just, for instance, make up and publically share peoples’ lists of most frequently emailed contacts without asking them.  Sure, lots of people will be happy to have you do it, but lots won’t be.  And surely they could have anticipated the privacy advocacy community’s reaction.

And we know they aren’t stupid, they are Google, after all.  They have brought us some of the coolest stuff on earth.   So this morning, waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the Red Line train to recover from its latest mechanical difficulties at Forest Glen, it hit me.  Of course!  They are keeping the needs of their customers’ front and center – it’s just that the customer isn’t me, it’s an advertiser!   I – or rather, data about me – am the product!   It makes perfect sense, and I knew it already.  I know Google dominates in internet advertising and aspires to more.  I know their whole business plan is to gather ever more and richer data so that it can make advertising even more and more targeted and relevant (and thus charge advertisers more for it).

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TOPICS: Privacy
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AT&T Excited to Host Iraqi Interns

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 3, 2010 at 3:49 pm

In April 2009, I had the honor of joining leaders from Twitter, Howcast, WordPress, Meetup, Blue State Digital, Google, YouTube and Wired Magazine on a State Department technology delegation to Baghdad. Our goal was to look at ways that communications technologies could help improve civil society in Iraq. This trip was part of the innovative work being done by Jared Cohen, Alec Ross and others within the State Department to leverage the power of mobile phones and social networking to engage citizens throughout the world in modern diplomacy or, in the words of Secretary Clinton, “21st Century Statecraft.”

One of the highlights of the experience was visiting several of Iraq’s finest universities and meeting with many bright technology students. In speaking with the students, we recognized a great opportunity for the students to come to the US to work for American technology companies so they could get experience applying their IT skills for companies in the private sector and ideally develop ideas for starting businesses upon their return to Iraq.

I’m very pleased that the State Department has turned this idea into a reality. In her October 20th speech at the U.S.-Iraq Business and Investment Conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the first-ever Iraqi IT Internship Program. And today, we couldn’t be more pleased to announce AT&T’s participation in this pilot effort.

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National Data Privacy Day

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on January 28, 2010 at 9:39 am

By Ellen Blackler, AT&T Executive Director – Public Policy

Today is National Data Privacy Day, a worldwide effort to raise awareness, improve transparency and generate dialogue surrounding data privacy issues impacting individuals, companies and governments.

Obviously, this is a good time to review the state of data privacy in the online world and AT&T’s ongoing commitment to the highest standards of data privacy.  Last summer, we unveiled our updated and streamlined data privacy policy.  Before the policy became final, we provided 45 days for consumer feedback – and improved the policy based on that feedback.  Our privacy policy is now written in plain language, is designed around many consumers’ concerns and clearly explains what data we collect, how we collect it, and how we use it.  But, we have not rested on these laurels.  We continue to look at new approaches to transparency and consumer control.

Later today, I will be participating in a Federal Trade Commission roundtable discussion in Berkeley, California.  The roundtable discussion will explore the privacy challenges posed by the fundamental expansion in scope and magnitude of online data collected and used for commercial purposes.  In the new world, even where discrete user information is anonymous, the growing capability to accumulate and associate data can result in a highly detailed, multi-dimensional view of a user beyond what is common in the offline world.

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