When I first heard that usage data in the form of browsing history was being monitored a couple of years ago,  my first reaction was that mine would be of little interest to the powers that be since it would likely be considered innocuous.  That was a mistake.

Here’s the latest. AT & T is considering selling your usage data—location, web browsing history, etc.) to advertisers. The plan was noted in a preview of an upcoming change to their privacy policy (one of these pamphlets you receive in the mail to inform you by law how they use your information).

AT&T points out that other companies, like Verizon, have been doing this for a while. This apparently makes it all okay. Facebook and Google do similar things. Keep this in mind when using Facebook and Google at the same time keep in mind that you are paying money for companies like AT & T to provide service to be able to communicate with others for business or pleasure.

The only upside, if that’s possible, it’s that AT & T is promising to anonymize and aggregate the data before they sell it. Does this make you feel better? Apparently anonymizing large chunks of data doesn’t really work. They’re just going to use it to show you “more relevant advertising”.

The good news is that you can (at this point) opt out and please notice, even if I’m picking on AT&T with this post, how many telephone companies are doing this.

Here’s the link you’ll need: http://att.com/cmpchoice. Sign in, opt out, and you’re done. If you feel like digging a bit deeper, here’s AT&T’s entire page about opting-out of things like this.

And for all of you who might’ve just learned that your carrier probably does something similar:

Here’s Verizon’s program. You can opt out by calling 1-800-333-9956.

Here’s Sprint’s program. Opt out at http://www.sprint.com/mychoices

Here’s T-Mobile’s program. T-Mobile goes through a company called Network Advertising Initiative, and doesn’t seem to offer an account-wide opt-out. The closest thing I can find is a browser-by-browser, cookie-based opt-out system, found here.

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3 Comments on AT&T and others selling your browsing history, location etc. to advertisers.

  1. Tin Lizzie says:

    More invasion of privacy and they’ll just keep on doing it.

  2. Joe Pickford says:

    I thought they were already doing this. It comes as no surprise considering what the government does.

  3. Sally A. says:

    Thanks for this post Sandy. I love when you add some tech information. Regardless of the genealogy genre we all use today’s available technology. The fact that our online experience is being monitored by corporate or government entities is not good.

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