Friday, June 23, 2006

AT&T Claims Rein Over Customer Data

AT&T said that data it collects on customers belongs to the telco giant and therefpre it can do what it wants with it, but privacy advocates say otherwise.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on January 31, 2006, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications. By Ma Bell's action it appears that it's snubing the EFF suit right in the face.

AT&T says its going to notify its customers that it will be sharing their information with law-enforcement or government agencies, which includes information on who they call and their account data as well. AT&T is applying this notice to Internet users and telephone customers and knowing how it's treated its 7+ million customers in the past, it means that AT&T is making this a "agree or cancel the account" notification. Though AT&T has not released details of those plans.

Michael Coe, an AT&T spokesman, told the media that the "spirit" underwhich AT&T uses personal data and information is still there, that AT&T will protect the privacy of its customers. How, I have no idea, when without a warrant, any government agency or law-enforcement organization can now freely get what ever they want about any customer, at any time. What Coe really means is customer information can be "spirited" away with a simple request and the only one who won't be protected is - you!

Under its old privacy policy AT&T did not claim to own the information on its customers. Now, San Antonio-based AT&T says its going to ask customers to agree that it does own that data. AT&T's actions and the public response to its latest decision will be closely watched by rival carriers including Verizon and BellSouth, which have similarly been accused of handing over information on personal calls made by their customers in response to the NSA's request to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. The government agency was reportedly able to get the data even without any official warrant that would have forced the carriers to cooperate.

AXcessNews

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