AT&T Again Complaining It’s Unfair If Web Companies Can Sell Your Data But They Can’t

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We are sure you will be shocked, shocked to hear that a major telecom company that currently makes some money from having customers pay to keep private data private wants to be able to continue doing so whenever possible. And yet, here we are.

FierceWireless reports that at a conference this week, AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie offered some thoughts about the ISP privacy rule the FCC is mulling over.

“There always should be a level playing field,” Lurie complained. That stance is neither new nor surprising from AT&T, which has complained before about how unfair it will be if Google and Facebook can collect, share, and sell your data but carriers like AT&T can’t.

Lurie was also asked directly about AT&T using its wireless customers’ information to provide targeted advertising. He promised the company respects customers’ privacy, saying “We’ve always been very, very transparent about our policy … We have earned the trust of our customers and we have to keep that trust.”

It’s not so clear whether AT&T has really earned that trust, though. The company began charging 40% more to U-verse GigaPower customers who opt to keep their data private in 2013, a program it has since expanded to other cities.

More: What laws there actually are — and aren’t — about your “private” data

AT&T has objected in the past to having its “Internet Preferences” option called a pay-for-privacy scheme… except, it is. Consumers who want to keep their private data private pay $29 per month more ($99 vs. $70) for that privacy.

AT&T does not yet apply such a program to its wireless customers, but it’s unsurprising that they want to leave the door open for just that. The proposed rule the FCC is currently considering may apply to both wireless and fixed-line (your home broadband) carriers, if adopted; AT&T clearly wants to prevent that.

And indeed, AT&T has company from other ISPs that also hate the FCC’s proposal. Comcast argued in August that you, the consumer, would actually suffer actual, active harm if Comcast isn’t allowed to charge you extra for privacy. (Yes, really.)

Comcast doesn’t have a program like AT&T’s yet, but wants to be able to do so in the future. Preventing the trade-off of personal data for money would deprive consumers of lower-priced offerings, Comcast said, and would therefore be bad for everyone.

AT&T’s CEO calls for ‘level playing field’ in advertising market [FierceWireless]