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AT&T Rewrites Privacy Policy 316

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the wow-just-wow dept.
VikingThunder writes "The San Francisco Chronicle reports that AT&T has revamped its privacy policy, in an effort to head off future consumer lawsuits, with changes taking effect this Friday. AT&T is introducing a new policy that gives it more 'latitude' when it comes to sharing your browsing history with government agencies. Notable changes include notification that AT&T will track viewing habits of customers of its new video services Homezone and U-Verse, which is forbidden for cable and satellite companies, as well as explicitly stating that the customer's data belongs to the company: 'While your account information may be personal to you, these records constitute business records that are owned by AT&T. As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process.'"
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AT&T Rewrites Privacy Policy

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  • by evileyetmc (977519) * on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:22PM (#15577449)
    Well, I knew it wasn't going to be long before companies decided to openly admit that playing politics was more important than treating their customers right. Agreed that they had been playing politics in the past *cough* Bush's domestic wiretapping *cough*, but only now are they confirming that and trying to save their behinds from lawsuits like the kind the EFF has filed for unwarranted wiretaps.
    This is exactly the treachery that leads to companies going under...You f*ck the consumer, you get f*cked right back.

    I say call up your local congressman/woman and tell them that you want the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 to include provisions for all methods of distributing content, including IPTV. Also explain to them that your privacy is important to you and that you want them to support as many privacy bills as they can.

    Of course, if that doesn't work, just ditch AT&T. I know there is enough competition out there to cripple them. Alas, you might end up paying a bit more, but think of it as the price you pay for privacy, and consumer-friendliness.
    • by bleh-of-the-huns (17740) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:27PM (#15577483)
      Ditching ATT is not so easy, they have a very large infrastructure and massive backbone. There is really no way to avoid using their services, either directly or indirectly. I hate to say this, but the only way to stop this is through gov intervention (I wont say regulation because I have regulation), but there is little way for the avg consumer to impact ATT's pocket book, now if companies (end user ISPs and such) toss ATT, that would definately hurt them.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I wont say regulation because I have regulation


        Glad to hear you are getting your fiber.
      • Better to trial and fail then not try at all, I'd say. At least if you actively work to avoid them, eventually you will at least hurt them financially - which can eventually (hopefully?) lead to someone else with bigger pockets that we can trust finally buying out the backbone.
        • Better to trial and fail then not try at all, I'd say. At least if you actively work to avoid them, eventually you will at least hurt them financially - which can eventually (hopefully?) lead to someone else with bigger pockets that we can trust finally buying out the backbone.

          It's not so easy in more rural areas, but I suspect this will give Vonage a hefty boost if enough people get disenfranchised by AT&T over this to make the switch. That's assuming that Vonage can avoid more lawsuits [eweek.com].

          • Does Vonage encrypt their traffic?

            There's a good chance that your Internet traffic gets routed over an AT&T-controlled network at some point...
            • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @04:09PM (#15578270) Homepage Journal
              "Does Vonage encrypt their traffic?"

              I dunno...but, if you want to make their tracking data useless for you...start trying to encrypt ALL your internet traffic.

              Grant it....it will slow you up a bit, but, will make you far less traceable. Set up anon. browsing, set up nym accounts for email...that will help your mail at least be encrypted, even from those who don't know how to use pgp.

              In general, also start trying to use SSH and vpns for most everything you do....it is a bit slower and PITA, but, might be worth it in the end, considering this new policy, and the govt's recent attempts to get ALL ISP's to "voluntarilly" keep all internet access records stored for 2 years.
              • by quantum bit (225091) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @04:34PM (#15578427) Journal
                You're preaching to the choir here. Most of the network related programs I use operate with ssh as their transport layer (unison for file sync, svn+ssh for source code repo and other versioned storage).

                I also operate my own mail server/domain, which most of my friends and family have accounts on. I allow ONLY SSL-protected connections, so no plaintext POP3 passwords flying about. As far as they're concerned it's only 1 extra checkbox to click so it's no big deal. SMTP+AUTH+SSL for sending.

                Granted, that won't help for sending messages to the outside as they transit unencrypted at some point, but at least we can email each other in relative security. If the NSA wastes a few weeks of processor time just to find out what my lunch plans were last Friday, serves 'em right.

                Grant it....it will slow you up a bit

                Unless you're talking about initial setup, at the bandwidth levels that most consumer accounts have, I have never seen an appreciable slowdown due to encryption. My modest 266-Mhz router can saturate a 3Mb link with VPN traffic.

                Even on my laptop where I do full-disk encryption (GELI on FreeBSD -- built in and it was cake to set up), I can still get upwards of 20MB/s disk I/O, which isn't significantly worse than the el-cheapo drive that's in there can manage without it.
              • by kalirion (728907) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @04:47PM (#15578497)
                And how long do you think before this sort of encryption becomes illegal? Wasn't there some bill/law in the UK that you have to provide the government with all your private keys or face jail time?
                • "Wasn't there some bill/law in the UK that you have to provide the government with all your private keys or face jail time?"

                  Well, one way to maybe at least get around having to 'have keys' for email. You could set up a nym server, that instead of mailing the mail to you...sent it to a newsgroup like alt.anonymous. Only you would know the subject for your messages, and have the encryption key to decrypt it.

                  I'd think the govt. in order to prove you needed to turn a key over to them...would need evid

              • by Money for Nothin' (754763) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @08:11PM (#15579547)
                <sarcasm>Great! I'll get mom, dad, and my popular sister with 60 of her bestest friends on AIM using anonymous email and Freenet in no time!</sarcasm>

                Seriously though, the reason these apps haven't taken-off is because they face a chicken-and-egg problem: they aren't standards de facto or de jure.

                I've tried getting my friends to use encrypted AIM, via GAIM, Trillian, etc.. Of course they don't use it, (except for another Slashdotter friend of mine): it's "too hard" and (so they say) if you have nothing to hide, then what's the concern over privacy about? (and then I sigh: "He who does not learn from the past, is doomed to repeat it...")

                I have relatives who are privacy nuts, and one close to me is even somewhat technically-competent and very well-educated. Yet, mention "PGP", and his eyes glaze over.

                If even the privacy-concerned intelligentsia don't want to put forth the effort to protect their privacy, then isn't the battle, as a defacto matter, basically lost?

                I think privacy is, has, and will always be, a lost cause. It takes:
                • Political and/or economic/business intelligence to understand its value
                • A historian's knowledge to understand the historical examples of privacy loss
                • Mathematical sophistication to have a theoretical conception of the potential growth in instances of knowledge of one's personal information by others via the network effects of private information's spread
                • A network-connected computer geek's (like most of us Slashdotters) understanding of how quickly that information actually *does* spread on the Internet to understand and demonstrate the reality of the privacy situation

                Few people outside of many computer scientists, and some in the hard sciences and math, and maybe a few lawyers, are competent to fully-grasp the implications of privacy loss. Most people are not so intelligent, nor nearly patient enough to understand the subject -- and so, most people don't give a rat's ass.

                The reality of privacy around the world is that Scott McNeely was right some 10 years ago, when he proclaimed that "privacy is dead." I cannot think of a single period in time in which the U.S. or Britain have undergone periods in which privacy could be said to have generally *increased*. [1] Germany arguably improved after the fall of East German socialism, having eliminated the Stasi in the process, but that's like switching from a Yugo to a GM-made econocar for one's personal transportation -- it's a big improvement, but still very far from what is wanted.

                Those of us who care about privacy can and do use such applications. The rest of the unwashed masses will be tracked and eventually hunted-down by governments, corporations, and sophisticated black-market criminal organizations like the goddamn cattle they are (and, if East German, Iraqi, Chinese, North Korean, and American communist history -- as well as the history of various black market businesses (drug cartels, the Mafia, etc.) -- is any indicator, murdered much the same).

                It doesn't help either that privacy apps have typically not worked particularly-well. Freenet is a great example: it hogs RAM and CPU and in the end, content-retrieval is painfully-slow. Not to mention that Freenet, like PGP, is basically a big red flashing neon sign to law-enforcement suggesting a high probability of illegal activity (and I think those of us who genuinely run/ran it for the political purpose of keeping free-speech and privacy alive really are/were in the minority -- just as those with whom you can talk intelligently to on USENET, or anywhere else on the Internet or in real life, are in the minority)...

                [1] Then again, how does one measure privacy? By the number of surveillance cameras, public and private? By the number of records per individual being analyzed out of databases? By the number of doors kicked-down on the basis of information obtained via a breach of privacy? By th


      • Here in Sacramento, AT&T is the only phone provider. Isn't that a monopoly?

      • Who says he isn't aiming this at them (end user ISP's)? Last I checked the type who read slashdot tend to be the type who at least get a vote as to who their transit is coming from.
      • by megaditto (982598) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:25PM (#15577967)
        From GP:
        Also explain to [legislators] that your privacy is important to you and that you want them to support as many privacy bills as they can.

        Currently the mantra If you are not a terrorist/paedophile/Mexican, you have nothing to hide and you'll have no privacy when the terrorists win seems to be the flavor of the day.

        Or as one prominent FoxNews commentator puts it, the American People would rather the Govt. collected their records than their remains.

         
        Of course, if that doesn't work, just ditch AT&T. I know there is enough competition out there to cripple them.


        As the parent (bleh-of-the-huns) said, such a move will not impact ATT's bottom line. If anything, it will save them bandwidth costs as those customers that tend to be privacy-aware also tend to consume more of their all-you-can-eat subscription plans than the sheeople customers.
      • by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton@noSpam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @05:01PM (#15578599) Homepage Journal
        I hate to say this, but the only way to stop this is through gov intervention (I wont say regulation because I hate regulation)

        Ain't it funny how folks hate regulation until they want something regulated?

        Welcome to the left side of the aisle, buddy. I hope you don't hate Liberals. You're one of us now. :)
    • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsdNO@SPAMharrelsonfamily.org> on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:53PM (#15577710) Homepage
      Of course, if that doesn't work, just ditch AT&T.
      I currently do not use AT&T. However...

      Anytime anybody calls me using AT&T, my phone number appears in those records. And since I am not an AT&T customer, I have not agreed to their privacy policy. Is there any legal remedy for this?
      • by hackstraw (262471) * on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:24PM (#15577965)
        Anytime anybody calls me using AT&T, my phone number appears in those records. And since I am not an AT&T customer, I have not agreed to their privacy policy. Is there any legal remedy for this?

        All "privacy policies" are bullshit. They all say at the end of them something in legalese like: "We reserve the right to change our mind at any time".

        Personally, I believe that _WE_ as individuals should create our own privacy policy and make businesses/corps sign it.

        The problem is that no business or corporation or whatever would sign our privacy policy. The rights of individuals have been officially lost as far as I can tell.

        • All "privacy policies" are bullshit. They all say at the end of them something in legalese like: "We reserve the right to change our mind at any time".

          Yes, they are very carefull not to stick anything like this into the actual contracts.

          If you want privacy, have the government enact laws (feel free to copy as much as you want from our Scandinavian ones, privacy/consumer laws seem to be things we're reasonably good at). On the other hand, if the government is the problem, it's your own bloody fault, you

          • by silphium (886448) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @05:08PM (#15578643)
            US has unique problems. Last time I came back from Dallas I had to swerve my car hundreds of times to avoid the numerous flag burnings all up and down I-35 (or was that just the combination of Jack Daniels and cold medicine kicking in?) We should support our president in protecting the American flag from the armies of satanic liberals lined up to vomit on this symbol of our freedom. Even worse, gays are destroying marriage. As one Fox news commentator pointed out the other day, next thing will be marriage to snakes (already performed in some Christian sects). Marriage is intended to be between a man and a woman until divorce decreee and property settlement do they part. The president and our congress are going to amend the US Constitution to preserve marriages for destruction by more conventional means (divorce on the grounds of adultery is a personal favorite).
    • I think AT&T is just the first domino in line. Ditching them won't do you any good when others will be following. I can certainly see Sprint and Verizon taking advantage of AT&T going first..."hey, we can say everyone is doing it!" "may disclose your information in response to subpoenas, court orders, or other legal process," Nice and broad. I wonder who gets to define "legal process".
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:56PM (#15577738) Homepage
      First remembet that it is not AT&T but SBC wearing a AT&T suit they bought.

      This is typical SBC tactics they have been pulling over the years.... They just thought that by changing their name nobody would notice.

      remember when you hear AT&T you are not hearing the AT&T from the past but SBC trying to hide from their reputation.

    • you want to talk tech to a congresscritter?

      really?

      you think ANY of them really understand stuff like 'we' do?

      (man! I don't know where to begin with that.)

      they understand who pays them the most and who controls the votes. you can't EXPLAIN things to them. you can only wave votes or money in front of them. he with the biggest, wins.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:11PM (#15577860) Homepage
      This is exactly the treachery that leads to companies going under...You f*ck the consumer, you get f*cked right back.

      Well, it's a nice theory. In practice, it doesn't mean a damned thing. Cranky consumers can't do anything to a company like AT&T, not really.

      If you explicitly refuse this new privacy policy, do you really believe that will cause them to purge your records? No, they're gonna retain what they have already even if it violates their previous policy.

      What if you can't change? Live in a place where there is exactly one provider of broadband? Think you'll give up your high-speed just to try and punish AT&T? (And if you do, they're gonna keep what they have.)

      Now that they've said this, and now that they're gonna track everything, your assent to their privacy policy will become irrelevant.

      Since they operate much of the backbone, what is to stop them from passing on information about people with whom they don't actually have a current/past business relationship? Nothing, they'll still be passing on their routing data which covers people who could not possibly have consented to the privacy policy. International data gets routed through AT&Ts trunks.

      Hell, I live in a whole different country (Canada), and my cell-phone company (Rogers) is associated with AT&T. Which probably means that some if not all of my own damned information is probably going to flow south of the border. Which fscking Congressman am I going to fskcing contact to complain about this? Oh, wait, that would be absolutely fsking noone, that's who.

      Do you think the government is going to legislate/intervene/say anything? They want this kind of things more than ever. If a company makes you sign a contract that says "we can do anything we want", the current administration has only to gain from this. They're more than happy to extend the territoriatility of their laws with little regard -- despite that if any other country tried to extend their laws in the same way, the US would be screaming bloody murder.

      AT&T's decision to do this affects way more people than the number of people who are going to be asked to agree to this privacy policy. It's probably going affect me personally, and I don't have a business relationship with them. And probably a whole lot of other people.
      • What if you can't change? Live in a place where there is exactly one provider of broadband? Think you'll give up your high-speed just to try and punish AT&T?

        A lot of people get by with satellite connection.

        I'm not sure why so many people have the notion that DSL & cable are the last word when it comes to broadband.

        A satellite connection brings telephone service, TV and the internet to many parts of the world that would otherwise have nothing other than a radio phone.

  • Did they also fix the part of the privacy policy to say: "AT&T (a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Security Agency)"
  • by dr_dank (472072) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:24PM (#15577467) Homepage Journal
    Do privacy polices have any real legal meaning to them? Companies write them, I don't think they'll punish themselves for violating them.
  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:28PM (#15577497)
    if the other telcos started doing the same thing. In the beginning they simply said all their interactions were "classified" with the governement, building a huge smokescreen with which to hide behind. Now they have to deal with lawsuits, and they slip this into their privacy statement to stymie the 'suits. Knowing how telcos really like to avoid such suits I wouldn't be surprised if AT&T has started a fad.
  • by Jerf (17166) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:28PM (#15577500) Journal
    Reminding you once again that any privacy policy [sbc.com] that includes the clause that it can be changed at any time with minimal notification and no consent is no privacy policy at all.

    (To be fair, the linked policy does have a nod towards "materially different" changes to the privacy policy. But guess who decides what "materially different" is...?)
    • Reminding you once again that any privacy policy that includes the clause that it can be changed at any time with minimal notification and no consent is no privacy policy at all.
      It reminds me of job descriptions that include a long list of duties, and at the end say "additional duties as assigned." The catch-all at the end renders the rest of the list moot; they could have simply stated "duties: do what you're told" and been just as accurate.
  • by Mad Dog Manley (93208) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:28PM (#15577501)
    As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process.'"

    Don't you see, AT&T is doing this for you, the valued customer. It is in your best interests. Don't you want to be kept safe from the evil0rz criminals?

    In Canada, the Privacy Act restricts the ability of corporations to share private information. Admittedly it's not perfect, but it appears to be better than what exists in the United States.
  • *Sigh of relief* (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shumacher (199043) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:29PM (#15577505) Homepage
    I was shopping for a new ISP this morning, and AT&T lost out only by failing to have a particularly local dialup number.
    • Thank you! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RingDev (879105)
      The best way to force AT&T to change their game is to vote with your all-mighty dollar. A single dollar-voting customer is worth any number of petitions and angry letters.

      -Rick
      • Re:Thank you! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:56PM (#15577748)
        "Best" is such an overused modifier. How can you be sure that would really be the best way?

        I'd imagine the freekin' Hand of God coming out of the sky and obliterating AT&T headquarters might spur them to make the change just a wee bit faster.
      • A single dollar-voting customer is worth any number of petitions and angry letters.

        You're right. A single dollar-voting customer is just as effective as an angry letter, which is to say that they're both pointless and empty gestures. Even a petition is worthless if all people do is grumble and then go back to being good little consumers.

        Now a petition that gets a critical mass of people to commit to terminating their service... Ah, now that's actually worth something.

        A single voter is as meaningless as a
        • The problem is that the vast majority of petition signers are not willing to perform action in association with the petition. I wish I had the cites handy to back that statement up, but that paper was from a few years ago.

          In short, 165,000 users signing a petition, but still paying their bills means nothing to AT&T.

          10,000 users canceling their service and citing the PP as the primary reason will likely invoke a reaction.

          You are correct, it is about critical mass. 10 dollar-voters will not make a differe
  • How is this legal? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AWhiteFlame (928642) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:30PM (#15577511) Homepage
    Can they really legally say, "Welp, even though it's your personal data, we reserve the right to do whatever we want with it if it benefits us or our partners." ?
    • by stratjakt (596332)
      Yes, because they are legitimate business records.

      Best Buy is allowed to keep all your credit card purchases on file, and use those records however they see fit in the course of business - including selling your purchasing habits to a marketing firm for analysis.

      If you don't like it, tough titties. Move to a developing nation that doesn't have technology yet.
      • If you don't like it, tough titties. Move to a developing nation that doesn't have technology yet.

        because you can shit-sure bet that "In America" your government representative doesn't care what you think.
      • If you don't like it, tough titties.

        Paying in cash, not accepting value cards, and lying through your teeth on any papers they have you fill out (like rebates) also works remarkably well.
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "Best Buy is allowed to keep all your credit card purchases on file, and use those records however they see fit in the course of business - including selling your purchasing habits to a marketing firm for analysis. If you don't like it, tough titties. Move to a developing nation that doesn't have technology yet."

        Or....you could just use cash.

        :-)

    • by richg74 (650636) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:42PM (#15577632) Homepage
      Yes, they can do just that.

      While your account information may be personal to you, these records constitute business records that are owned by AT&T.

      This really summarizes the legal problems with privacy here in the US. Although the data that people collect on you is "personal to you", it almost always, legally, belongs to whoever collected it. The hodgepodge of Federal and state laws doesn't help. For example, here in Virginia, my medical records are the property of my doctor. It was only relatively recently that legislation was passed that gives me the statutory right to see my own medical records.

      This also relates directly to the more-or-less careless approach many firms take to protecting personal data. If the data belongs to them, they are that much more insulated from any legal consquences of losing it.

      Bruce Schneier [schneier.com] has discussed this in a number of his blog posts and essays.

    • by gbobeck (926553) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:44PM (#15577641) Homepage Journal
      Can they really legally say, "Welp, even though it's your personal data, we reserve the right to do whatever we want with it if it benefits us or our partners." ?


      I am not a lawyer, but from what I have seen on the web, it is perfectly ok and legal provided they don't include "Nyah, Nyah Nyah, Nyah Nyah.", "Neener Neener, or "Smoochy Boochy" at the end of the policy.
    • "Can they really legally say,"

      Why not? The laws are written by those same people who can't bring themselves to even question the NSA's and AT&T's activities.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:31PM (#15577521)
    ...with the company formerly known as Cingular, since they're changing the terms of the agreement after the fact?
  • Ouch. (Score:4, Funny)

    by theskipper (461997) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:36PM (#15577566)
    That does it. I'm sending back my "AT&T Best Friends Forever" ring.
  • With my bride and I both using cell phones as our primary line, I've put off canceling them on my POTS line for long distance service. Well no more - the $8USD/month (was $3, but it looks like it jumped up with extra fees) just to have the service is not a lot of cash, but at least I'll get a chance to give AT&T a big old FU and the horse you road in on. The rep had the brass to say this was something to strengthen my 'privacy', then started on a song and dance about September 11th.

    For those in the US, 1-800-222-0300 option 6 gets you where you need to go. Expect a 30 minute (or more) wait time.

    Fuckers...
  • Contract Violation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:38PM (#15577580) Homepage Journal
    In most states, actually operating under the terms of a contract, even if it's not signed by any party, gives that contract full force and effect.

    If I used AT&T for anything covered by that privacy "policy", I'd sue them for unilaterally changing the terms of the contract without my consent. If I were a lawyer, I'd construct a class of everyone whose contract they're breaching.

    Unless the old privacy policy says "AT&T can unilaterally change any terms of this policy without notice at any time", in which case I'd be a fool to think it was anything but an invitation to screw me whenever they want.
    • by ceejayoz (567949)
      Unless the old privacy policy says "AT&T can unilaterally change any terms of this policy without notice at any time"

      The number of large companies lacking that phrase in their privacy policies can likely be counted on a limbless war victim's fingers.
  • "Notable changes include notification that AT&T will track viewing habits of customers of its new video services Homezone and U-Verse, which is forbidden for cable and satellite companies, [...]"

    Did anybody else find that the most shocking/suprising part of the article? I had just always assumed that the primary purpose of the digital boxes the cable company gives you was so that they could have more control over tracking what you're watching and when, but apparently my secret American Idol fetish i
  • What !! (Score:3, Funny)

    by cdogbert (964753) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:39PM (#15577594)
    All your data are belong to us. You have no chance to complain, make your time.
  • Virus ownership? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sebastopol (189276) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:39PM (#15577602) Homepage
    Does that mean if I download a virus from an AT&T pipe that they own the virus too, so if it damanges my machine I can sue them, or maybe I can hold AT&T responsible for "their data" corrupting "my system" that I purchased?

  • Now, this could be a heck of a performance hit, but... What if a company supplied a local VOIP call-in bank. As in POTS copper lines that you could dial into on a modem. That VOIP call could then be secured and piped to some other country. The other end of the VOIP call would then be answered by a modem bank which spits out into some foreign ISP.

    It would be slow as tar, but it should get you a connection that isn't being directly reviewed by the NSA.

    The other problem is that even those of us who don't sign
    • by Oswald (235719) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:56PM (#15577739)
      Well, it's interesting, but it kind of misses the point. I don't have anything to hide from the NSA; that's not why I want them to stop spying on Americans. I want them to stop spying on Americans because stopping is the right, legal thing to do. Attempting to circumvent their procedures might give be fun in a "stickin' it to the man" sort of way, but it doesn't really take us where we want to go.
  • Actual policies... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dthulson (904894)
    Here are links to the new policy [sbcglobal.net] and the current policy [sbc.com].
  • by tabdelgawad (590061) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:43PM (#15577635) Homepage
    I was going to submit the following Salon article to the front page, but this will have to do

    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/06/21/att_n sa/index_np.html [salon.com]

    You have to wonder if the two stories are related.
  • As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests,

    Translation: "Everything has its price, including our souls and our integrity as a member of the private sector."
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:23PM (#15577951) Homepage
      As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests,

      Translation: "Everything has its price, including our souls and our integrity as a member of the private sector."

      Soul? Integrity? We're talking about a friggin' corporation, they don't have souls or integrity. If the steering comittee/board/whatever votes that it is in the best interests of the shareholders/themselves to do something, that's about the full extent of actual morality which applies.

      A company could have a mission statement which mandates that the board behave within a proscribed set of moral codes (like "The Body Shop" not testing on animals), but one should never actually acribe moral actions to a corporation. Least of all, one as large as AT&T.

  • by xlr8ed (726203) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:50PM (#15577692)
    15. RIGHT TO MONITOR

    Neither Charter nor any of its affiliates, suppliers, or agents have any obligation to monitor transmissions or postings (including, but not limited to, e-mail, newsgroup, and instant message transmission as well as materials available on the personal web pages and online storage features) made on the Service. However, Charter and its affiliates, suppliers, and agents have the right to monitor these transmissions and postings from time to time for violations of this Policy and to disclose, block, or remove them in accordance with the Subscriber Agreement and any other applicable agreements and policies.


    Charter laid this out about 15 months ago, basically stating that they have the right to watch and record anything you are doing under the guise of "protecting" itself
  • sheep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by non (130182) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:51PM (#15577698) Homepage Journal

    i hate regulation...
    privacy policy...
    etc.

    are you people stupid? you must be, the government just announced it spent 30 million of your money to buy exactly this type of information. in my mind thats the ultimate indignation, they broke the law, and operated against my interests using my cash. if you're going to sit around and just carp about privacy policies rather than demanding serious reforms AND regulations in the laws governing personal information then thats exactly what you are...
    • Re:sheep (Score:4, Insightful)

      by QCompson (675963) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:02PM (#15577802)
      if you're going to sit around and just carp about privacy policies rather than demanding serious reforms AND regulations in the laws governing personal information then thats exactly what you are...

      Good point, but did you see American Idol this season? It was awesome!
    • Re:sheep (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:06PM (#15577831) Journal
      "are you people stupid? "

      No.

      "you must be, the government just announced it spent 30 million of your money to buy exactly this type of information. in my mind thats the ultimate indignation, they broke the law, and operated against my interests using my cash."

      Yes, we must be stupid because the government did something we don't like.

      "if you're going to sit around and just carp about privacy policies rather than demanding serious reforms AND regulations in the laws governing personal information then thats exactly what you are..."

      Well, it sure as hell beats sitting around and carping about people carping about the problem. How do you know that no one posting here isn't making serious efforts to get these problems fixed? How do you know whether or not I met with my NJ state senator last week regarding this issue? How do you know that I haven't been calling my US Senator to discuss, following up with letters?

      You don't know jack about what actions other slahdot contributors are doing, so pipe down.

      In short, by your definition of stupid, you're twice as stupid as the people you complain about. Why don't you take some action instead of sitting on your rear? Or even better, organize people to take action as a group instead of whinging about the complainers?
  • privacy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blitz487 (606553) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @02:54PM (#15577725)
    'While your account information may be personal to you, these records constitute business records that are owned by AT&T. As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process.'

    In other words, their "privacy" policy is they can do whatever they please without limit with your information.

  • Over the past 30 years they've gone from a monolithic corporate/government agency that owns your phone, line, and soul to a decentralized oligarchy that owns your phone, line, and soul... back to a umm... hrrmmm..
  • by Anonymous Bullard (62082) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:00PM (#15577782) Homepage
    Although most Americans seem to accept this kind of erosion of personal privacy in the name of comrade Bush's long war of terror or simply as the undeniable birthright of large corporations, only a handful understands that these kind of US policies are helping spread the big chill across other continents as well.


    Forgetting about hypocrisy for a moment, there was a time when the US would advocate and to an extent even represent personal freedoms in most other parts of the world. Now it's all empty talk in inaugural speeches about the great USA is helping oppressed people regain their freedoms but as it happens most of those people desperately needing american support just happen to be oppressed by so-called allies in this "war of terror, countries like China etc.

    For those of us who actually live under undemocratic governments, the fact that american telecoms are helping the government track people and their interests is making it painfully easy for other freedom-hating regimes to impose similar or worse policies which only help chill the personal freedoms even further.

  • Corporate Espionage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by W.Mandamus (536033) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:04PM (#15577813)
    "While your account information may be personal to you, these records constitute business records that are owned by AT&T. As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process."

    So lets see:
    If I work at AT&T and a headhunter calls me at work or at home the corporation to check my phone records to "protect its legitimate business interests".

    If I am a competitor of AT&T's, AT&T can find out what VC's I've been calling to "protect its legitimate business interests".

    If I am sueing AT&T, AT&T can check my phone records to find out when I called my lawyer to "protect its legitimate business interests".

    If I sign a contract with AT&T to provide me with my competitors phone records AT&T can do it to "protect its legitimate business interests".

    You know if I were in charge of secruity for a major corporation I would be extremely worried about this.
  • by NineNine (235196) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:05PM (#15577819)
    No big deal... if anybody wants to do anything illegal online, or even look at questionable material, it's simply a matter of using your local municipal wireless network. The only thing the feds will find out will be the MAC address and the time said content was accessed.
  • by fallen1 (230220) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:18PM (#15577912) Homepage
    If AT&T can unilaterally change the privacy policy as it applies to users of those services (primarily individuals) what is stopping them from doing to same thing to small business as well as big business/coporations? Hmm? Lawyers? - perhaps. If I had a small business that used AT&T in any way, shape, form, or fashion I would be IMMEDIATELY and deeply concerned about the privacy of my business documents that are being transmitted over AT&T's network - by any means (T1/T3, OC3, Frame Relay, VPN, etc. - even encrypted communications). Suddenly all of my VERY sensitive corporate secrets become the property of AT&T? My e-mails are all logged? My browsing and viewing habits as CEO of said corporation are now catalogued and kept in a database at AT&T's Galactic Data Core? As a private citizen of the United States of America and as a corporate employee I say, unequivocally, FUCK THAT.

    Every concerned citizen and individual should rail against these changes in their policy - even if you don't use their service now. Write to them and explain, calmly and rationally, why you would never use their service and how you will do everything in your power to explain to family and friends why THEY should not use their service either. Dissatisfied people talk to loads of other people. Pissed off people talk to loads of other people. ANYTHING negative gets spread, on average, 10 times more than positive things do. When was the last time someone you know went to the doctor and said they had a great visit? Probably can't remember that, but I can guarantee that _someone_ you know has been to the doctor/dentist/etc. in the past 2 weeks and has vented a complaint about "I had to wait FOREVER to even see the doctor and he was only in there for 5 minutes" or something along those lines. Will a write-in campaign from both people who are on their service as well as those who aren't work? MAYBE. Yes, capital maybe since is always an If. Corporations tend to be a little more responsive to loads of negative press and negative write-ins than the goverment of the USA seems to be. If a good many small businesses and larger businesses/corporations jump on the write-in bandwagon too (especially those affected by HIPAA, Sa-Ox and other "privacy" concerns) then I'd give it a good chance.

    Not to mention who did NOT see this coming? Any company that uses the frigging DEATH STAR as a corporate logo has to be aiming for world domination somehow ;-)
  • WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:22PM (#15577945)
    WTF is an ad for "hands off the internet" doing on slashdot?

    As many erudite posters have pointed out this is nothing more than an astroturfing campaign by big telcos.. why is slashdot giving these people ad space?
    • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

      As many erudite posters have pointed out this is nothing more than an astroturfing campaign by big telcos.. why is slashdot giving these people ad space?

      Why not? It sure is better than running the advert in front of people who will take it at face value. At least on slashdot it gets a firm rebuttal and helps pay for the place.
  • by gorbachev (512743) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:37PM (#15578056) Homepage
    Wouldn't it just be cheaper for AT&T to rewrite the privacy policy as:

    "You have no privacy. Your data is ours. You have no rights."

    Rather than spend tens of thousands of dollars to pay lawyers to draft some marketdroir-laden crap everyone knows is complete bullshit.

    I'm so hoping I'll get contacted by an AT&T salesperson in the next few months. I think I'd enjoy the conversation tremendously.
  • by botlrokit (244504) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @03:49PM (#15578142)
    Have you ever searched for a historical interpretation of the philosophy of Muhammad?
    Have you ever posted a derisive comment about George Bush on a forum?
    Have you ever had interrogators knock on your door at 2 in the morning?

    You Will.

    And the company that will bring it to you?

    AT&T

  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @05:03PM (#15578617)
    If AT+T claims ownership of all traffic flowing on its network, then all special interest groups will finally have somebody to sue with big $$ when something "bad" is found on the Internet.

    AT+T will now be a lightning rod for lawsuits, frivolous or not.

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