In response to Google’s rollout of its advanced “Fiber” network, which reportedly delivers internet browsing speeds of up to 1,000 megabits (1,000 Mbps), or 1 gigabit (1 Gb), per second, AT&T has announced the rollout out its “GigaPower” fiber optic service as part of U-verse that offers this same high-speed internet access to customers in select markets. But reports indicate that users of the service will have to opt out of having their internet surfing habits monitored by “Ma Bell” for the purpose of targeted advertising and emails. According to ITProPortal.com, GigaPower subscribers who choose not to allow AT&T to track their browsing habits for customized advertising will have to pay at least $29 more than other customers for access.
The idea behind the tracking program is to see what GigaPower users are searching for and doing online in order to deliver this data up to third parties for marketing purposes (and data will presumably be shared with government agencies). If a GigaPower user searches for cycling equipment, for instance, AT&T may sell this data to marketers who will target the user with customized biking equipment ads. GigaPower service is already quite expensive at $139 per month, which is decreased to $110 for users who agree to AT&T’s so-called “Internet Preferences” package. But if you want to use GigaPower service in anonymity (and even this is questionable under the opt-out program), you’ll have to pay more and be treated like a second-class customer. “[T]he media may be lauding AT&T for putting a $29 monthly price on the value of consumer privacy. But when I look at the practice, I see a company that has little competition, manipulating consumers into choosing to give up their privacy,” wrote Stacey Higginbotham about the service on Gigaom.com. MORE