Privacy advocates slammed AT&T Inc. Thursday for declaring that it owned its Internet and video customers’ account information and could hand the data over to law enforcement if needed.
“My understanding is that they will be monitoring television viewing habits, and that it’s a condition of service that customers can’t opt out of,” said Paul Stephens, policy analyst at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. “It’s frightening,” he said.
In the policy update, which applied to AT&T’s more than 7 million Internet and video customers, the company said it could collect usage information from subscribers, including the Web pages they view, the programs they record, and the games they play.
Customers must agree to the terms, which take effect on Friday, before using AT&T’s services. AT&T’s previous policy guidelines did not explicitly say the company owned customer data.
In its broader privacy guidelines, which apply to all retail customers including phone clients, AT&T said it had an obligation to help law enforcement and would act “strictly within the law and under the most stringent conditions.”