Our Updated Privacy Policy

Posted by: Bob Quinn on June 28, 2013 at 11:55 am

In today’s online world, many companies are increasingly using customer data to help personalize and improve the products and services they offer consumers.

All of us are familiar with Facebook serving ads to its users based on common interests they have explicitly or implicitly documented on Facebook.  And we know that Google collects information and uses that to provide us with information and ads. 

In our own industry, Verizon uses anonymous and aggregate customer data to create marketing reports that help other companies better serve their customers.

At AT&T, we similarly plan to provide our customers with these sorts of personalized services and we’re committed to doing so in line with our longstanding policy to respect and protect our customers’ privacy.

Today, we posted an updated Privacy Policy that outlines a couple of new programs we plan to offer and, importantly, reasserts our privacy commitment. We are publishing this policy in a preview mode and we invite your comments and suggestions during our 30-day feedback period.

The new policy does a couple of things. First, we have tried to make it easier for our customers to understand the data we collect, how we use it, and how we protect it.  Second, we have structured our   policy in a manner that provides very straightforward consumer controls over the data we obtain from you or through your use of our services, websites and applications. Many of these changes are derived from customer research in which we asked customers how they want to hear about these topics.

We like to think about data and use of data in three large contexts:

Providing You Service and Improving Our Network and Services: We use network data to provide our voice, Internet and video services and to fix any issues that cause service problems.  What do I mean?  The network locates your mobile device to complete a call or to deliver the location-based services you want.   We also check how our network is performing for you at various locations so we can improve those spots that need it. We use this type of information to make our products and services better, and as a guide to let you know about new AT&T products and services that you might like.

Personal Information: We know our customers care about privacy just as we do.  So, we also worked to provide greater transparency and customer controls over how your data is used.  We don’t sell your personal information, and we won’t use it (other than to provide and improve your services as discussed above) unless you tell us you want us to do that.  For example, we offer an application called AT&T Alerts.  It provides you great discounts on AT&T and AT&T partner products and services.  It might send you a coupon if you happen to be near one of our partner retailers.  But you have to sign up for AT&T Alerts to get the service.  In other words, we use your personal information for this program only if you tell us in advance that you want us to do that.

Aggregate and Anonymous Data: This is data that can’t be tracked back to you individually.  Here’s an easy example: After an election in your community, officials will release the final vote tally.  They might say that 60 percent of the voters picked Candidate A and 40 percent picked Candidate B.  That information is a type of aggregate and anonymous data.  It’s “aggregate” because it combines information for the whole community telling you who the community as a whole voted for, and it is anonymous because the data doesn’t tell you who voted for which candidate.  In the Internet world, aggregate and anonymous data can be used by retailers, advertisers and marketing companies to figure out what consumers want in a particular area.  You benefit by having better products available and seeing advertising more relevant to your particular consumer segment. 

The new programs we are introducing will use aggregate and anonymous data to create marketing and analytics reports, and to allow us to deliver more relevant advertising to our customers.  In creating these programs, we wanted to make sure they fit with our privacy commitments. That’s why we also created consumer controls that will allow you to choose not to have your anonymous information included in these reports, and to choose not to receive the more relevant advertising if you don’t want it.  To be clear, you will still receive the same number of ads, they just won’t be as relevant.  Of critical importance to our customers is the fact that these programs are based on strictly anonymous information, and they are designed for insight into groups, not individuals. 

You’ll find more detail in our Privacy Policy on these three broad categories of data, as well as the choices we give you to control how your data is used. 

You’ll find our Privacy Policy and other explanatory materials about our new programs on our privacy website. We hope you’ll take a look at what we are doing and tell us what you think.

Comments (74)

Absurd!

Disturbing!

Disgusting!

I PAY you…you people don’t pay me – will be calling to opt-out of EVERYTHING including my CONTRACT

Why are businesses such trash buckets in this country???? You “people” have NO SOULS!

Suzanne July 8, 2013 at 6:35 pm

This should be illegal.

David LeBeouf July 8, 2013 at 11:03 pm

This is awful. You are going to lose a lot of customers over this.

We pay you for service, not to sell our information and get nothing back.

M Smith July 9, 2013 at 8:58 am

I think that is border line illegal or should be. I’ve deen a customer for a LOT of years I don’t want to change companies but I will.

Carla Young July 9, 2013 at 11:13 am

I want to know how to opt out of my U-verse and business phone line. I have already done so for my AT&T Wireless account. I want to opt out of EVERYTHING connected to AT&T. If this will not be done, I will definitely change carriers. This is absurd, and probably illegal.

Robert A. Celano July 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Absurd! AT&T should NOT be making money on my data – they make PLENTY of money from my wireless plan and the devices sold to me – and even though I have the latest devices and the more than adequate coverage that I pay for – the wireless coverage in my area is AWFUL. Why not concentrate on better coverage for the prices we are paying to AT&T? I’ve been with AT&T for over 15 years – if you want to keep me as a customer for the next 15, STOP doing this kind of crap and do something for those of us who PAY for the service. I would also prefer not to change companies, but I will….

Kippian I. Yost July 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Are they for real? I already get spammed relentlessly with spoofed ID numbers, now AT&T want to enhance that experience? I’ve been with AT&T on cell phone, DSL and UVerse. If I have to change carriers, I will.

Elizabeth Sadowski July 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm

If hadn’t just renewed my contract, I’d cancel my service right now. You guys are pigs.

Kristen B July 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Selling my private information to marketers doesn’t enhance my experience, it only erodes it but pads your top line. There are years of solid research proving this, you just choose to ignore it. My contract is up soon, I will choose to do business with a company that respects my privacy, not one that views my private actions as a commercial asset.

Bruno S July 9, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I’ve been with y’all for a long time and don’t want to change but after this I will I do not want my private sold to everybody. This is not right.

John Gregory Brown Sr July 10, 2013 at 11:05 am

I find this opt-out behavior deceptive and awful. Shame on you…

Thomas Enebo July 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm

If you change carriers, the new one will sell your information. If you think your monthly fee covers everything, you are wrong.

Wireless companies spend billions of dollars to build an infrastructure and provide you with phone & data whenever you want it. Here’s a chance to make some money so they don’t have to raise your rates.

Seriously, let the business do business.

Marko Studenti July 11, 2013 at 9:46 am

This is grounds for cancelling a contract right? If not the $5 fee for late payments that went into effect on July 1 should work.

Tim July 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm

This is one of many reasons that I cancelled my service after 15 years in good standing. Marko, I’ll let the business do business, just without my money or private information.

Everyone and everything isn’t for sale. If you are, well that’s your problem. I am not.

Keith Bracy July 15, 2013 at 10:46 am

This is disgusting. I have been with you for 13 years. Good bye AT&T, good bye for life.

Johnathon McEnroe July 17, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Does this mean if we are under a Contract you can break it and raise our rates? As a 15+ years customer who has been happy and pleased with AT&T service, I have been loyal but I also will have to go to your competitor very soon.

Ruth McMullen July 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm

What the hell are you going to do next to cause people to hate you even more than they do now ?

Marshall Wilson July 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I’m looking around for another phone service. W

Marshall Wilson July 27, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I agree with all the rest here. This is ridiculous. Now that I also found out AT&T is in with the NSA, none of our internet or phone is private. I just signed up 2 weeks ago and will be cancelling before my 30 days trial.

Jody Ayres July 28, 2013 at 2:38 pm

So they’re waiving our ETFs for not agreeing with this non-privacy policy then right?

Kimber Carlson July 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm

So they’re waiving our ETFs then for this new non-privacy policy? Because I’m not staying around for this breech of my information.

Kimber Carlson July 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm

I don’t like this any better than anyone here. In fact, I find it despicable, as I’ve always advocated for computing freedom. Quite importantly to me, there doesn’t seem to exist a link to where the actual updated privacy policy, in its full legalese glory, is (i.e. not the FAQ and not a blog entry and not a couple of dumbed-down blurbs explaining what AT&T thinks we public need to know about the changes). Sorry, but this is too obvious and I have yet to see a mention of it. We deserve to know what changes we most disagree with.

Luke E August 6, 2013 at 12:11 am

Voicing my disagreement with this policy +1

Should be opt-in – NOT opt-out

AT&T (intentionally) made the opt-out process onerous on the user by not offering a one-point OPT-OUT. Instead user has to go to each “program” with each device to opt-out. The average family probably has 5-6 devices, maybe more.

Program one (External Marketing and Analytics Reports) is “cookie-based” so if you don’t use cookies you can’t opt-out. If you delete cookies, you have to remember to opt-out AGAIN!

GMAB!

Surprised how few comments there are. Of course, ATT tried so slip this in under the radar so there is that.

TBird August 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I just found out about this, and am outraged by it. The default for these invasions of privacy should be ASK ME TO ALLOW rather than ASK ME TO DISALLOW

Daniel Q O’Leary December 7, 2013 at 5:12 pm

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