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AT&T might start charging customers to keep their data private

Published Jun 26th, 2017 11:05PM EDT
AT&T Internet Privacy Charge
Image: Shutterstock

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“Nice internet privacy you’ve got there! It’d be a shame if something bad were to happen to it.”

That’s the kind of line you’d expect in a mob movie from a thug looking for his weekly fee for protecting your privacy. In real life, AT&T can’t be quite so conspicuous, but that’s basically what the mobile carrier is considering doing, based on a recent interview with one of the executives on C-SPAN.

In an interview on C-SPAN last week, AT&T Senior Vice President Robert Quinn suggested that AT&T might charge users in the future to protect their privacy. The company tried this scheme in the past, DSLReports explains, asking users in 2016 to fork over between $531 to $800 more per year to opt out of its Internet Preferences program. The move was heavily criticized at the time, and AT&T soon dropped it to prevent it from jeopardizing its Time Warner deal.

However, AT&T is now reconsidering it.

“We got an enormous amount of criticism from privacy advocates when we rolled out, in Austin, Texas, an ad-supported Internet service […] Privacy advocates screamed about that,” Quinn said. He then added that AT&T might revisit a product similar to that, but sell it as an ad-based internet service that will give the user “more control” for a tax.

“As the privacy revolution evolves, I think people are going to want more control, and maybe that’s the pricing model that’s ultimately what consumers want,” Quinn said.

It’s unclear at this time what that means, and whether AT&T will indeed go forward with it. However, as DSLReports says, just because you’d pay for better privacy doesn’t mean that AT&T would stop collecting your data. Until then, just hope that no one comes knocking on your door about your privacy.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.