Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Next Great Amendment

The Next Great Amendment

AT&T recent announced one of the most stunning shifts in privacy policy in memory. From now on, if you use there internet service, anything you do is considered to be there’s as part of their business records. Anything.

“AT&T plans to adopt a new privacy policy that requires Internet customers to consent to it’s ownership of their account information and authorizes it to track consumer usage, including their use of video.” Elliot Blair Smith USA today 22jun06

“While your account information may be personal to you, these records constitute a business records that are owned by AT&T. As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests.” (IBID)

Let that sink in for a minute.

What AT&T is saying is that ANYTHING you do on line is considered to be part of their business records and as such their property to do with what they will.

Now the initial reaction from most people is, “Who cares, I’m not doing anything illegal.” OK fair enough, but consider this.

AT&T COULD, if it chose to, provide information to a health insurance company or employer about your website visits to Alcoholics Anonymous or a colon cancer website.

Oh they’d NEVER do that!

But they COULD. It’s not protected medical information, so according to the AT&T policy, it’s fair game.

Think about what a great resource this will be to employers. An applicant has their resume on your desk. AT&T CAN sell your last two years surfing habits, web sites visited, chat logs I would imagine, downloads. This is a fantastic ability to slip inside the mind of a new hire and find out BEFORE you’ve obligated yourself to the hire, just what sort of person you’re getting.

It’s the ultimate get to know you.

Health insurance providers could deny new policies based on information gleaned from web searches. Sir why did you spend so much time on the AA online?

Now AT&T will deny the intention to do such a thing, but the truth of the matter is that they reserve the right to. “To protect legitimate business interests.” Well, the obligation to the shareholders is the ultimate legitimate business interest, overriding all others and to that end profitability is king. If there is shareholder value increase to be had by legally selling your information- they’ll do it. In fact they will consider themselves obligated to do it.

While this government happily decimates our right to privacy, they distract us with divisive issues about gay marriage and flag burning.

The next great amendment to the Constitution should be neither of these but a guarantee that my information is MY information and that IF I am doing something illegal, the law enforcement agencies of this country have a right to ask a judge for a warrant to investigate my private communications. If they find information that a law has been broken, they have the obligation to arrest me and I have the right to a speedy trial by a jury of my peers with representation by legal counsel.

What a novel idea.


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