AT&T: Pay more if you don’t want to share data for personalized ads

If you are a customer of AT&T’s GigaPower fiber-optic Internet access service and you don’t want to see personalized ads based on your browsing history, searched terms and clicked links, you’ll have to shell out nearly $30 more for the service than those who do.

The interesting thing about this offer is that even if you opt out of seeing and receiving the personalized ads, AT&T may still collect and use your web browsing information for other purposes. So, essentially, you’re not paying for your privacy (as you might have thought).

The GigaPower service has been available to residents of Austin, Texas, since 2013, and has been offered to Kansas City, Missouri, residents on Wednesday.

Customers who are willing to participate in the company’s Internet Preferences analytics program are charged $70 per month for Internet speeds of up to one gigabit. Those who don’t are charged $99 per month.

Jonathan Mayer, a PhD candidate in computer science and law lecturer at Stanford, posits that AT&T decided to implement this difference in price in order to steer users towards choosing to participate in the program.

An AT&T spokeswoman commented for WSJ that they see it as a discount for those who participate.

“We can offer a lower price to customers participating in AT&T Internet Preferences because advertisers will pay us for the opportunity to deliver relevant advertising and offers tailored to our customer’s interests,” she said.

To sum it all up: AT&T is going to get paid, whether by customers or advertisers.

Also, there is nothing users can do to stop AT&T collecting their web browsing information, whether the participate in the Internet Preferences program or not. AT&T customers agree to the company’s Privacy Policy, which says that they collect, among other things, web browsing and wireless application information.