AT&T is installing a very high speed Internet service, called GigaPower, in Austin, Texas and in Kansas City, Missouri. The company plans to add 100 more cities to the new up to 1 gigabit-per-second fiber optic fiber service soon. (See http://goo.gl/Nu81IE for details.) However, customers are offered two different prices. The cheaper service includes an agreement that AT&T will track users as they surf the Web. Customers who want to keep their browsing habits to themselves can pay an additional $29 fee per month to opt out of being monitored.
For the cheaper price, the company claims:
“We use various methods to collect web browsing information, and we are currently reviewing the methods we may use for the Internet Preferences program. Whichever method is used, we will not collect information from secure (https) or otherwise encrypted sites, such as online banking or when a credit card is used to buy something online on a secure site. And we won’t sell your personal information to anyone, for any reason.”
The company also states:
“We’ll use your individual web browsing information, like the search terms you enter and the web pages you visit, to tailor ads and offers to your interests. You won’t necessarily receive more ads when you are online, but those you do see may be more suited to your interests.
“For example: If you search for concert tickets, you may receive offers and ads related to restaurants near the concert venue.”
For an extra $29 a month ($348 per year), the company reportedly will not spy on its customers. You can read more in an article by Elizabeth Dwoskin and Thomas Gryta in the Wall Street Journal at http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/02/18/att-offers-data-privacy-for-a-price.
COMMENT: I’d love to have the new up to 1 gigabit-per-second fiber optic fiber AT&T GigaPower service installed in my home. If it becomes available in my area at the prices stated, I will sign up for it. HOWEVER, I will then install a VPN (virtual private network) router or other VPN device that will encrypt every bit and byte of data BEFORE the data is sent to the AT&T connection. That will block AT&T and anyone else from monitoring my Internet connection. Those devices do cost money but, considering AT&T’s $348 per year price difference, the VPN will pay for itself within a few months.
I like Witopia’s CloakBox Pro™ VPN Router at https://www.witopia.net/products/ although there are other products that should accomplish the same thing.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Witopia in any way and am not compensated to make this recommendation. I simply like the Witopia products and services.