AT&T plans to reinstate their GigaPower pay-for-privacy scheme, as revealed by AT&T VP Robert Quinn in a recent interview with C-SPAN. In 2014, AT&T started offering GigaPower 300 Mbps fiber internet in cities around the United States. Users signing up had the option of paying $29 more per month to guarantee that AT&T doesn’t snoop on your internet traffic and serve you advertisements and offers from their MITM position on your internet. Yes, they actually put a price on privacy and it’s coming back. GigaOM discovered that $29 a month ($348 per year) isn’t even the real price of buying your privacy back from AT&T – the total bill could run up to $800 per year.
— Steve Watt (@wattsteve) May 10, 2014
AT&T’s senior PR official, Cathy Lewandowski, defended the program in 2016:
“We offer customers a choice to share their data or not. If they do, they receive a discount and relevant advertising tailored to their interests.”
Without net neutrality, GigaPower’s pay-for-privacy scheme is just the beginning
The FCC net neutrality rules didn’t go as far as to forbid pay-for-privacy, but it did give the FCC the ability to evaluate cases of pay-for-privacy, like GigaPower, on a case-by-case basis. As soon as this was announced, companies like AT&T ended their pay-for-privacy schemes; however, now that Title II net neutrality rules are again on their way out, AT&T plans to reintroduce GigaPower’s multiple privacy tiers – and this time they aren’t claiming that it’s a “discount,” a benefit to society, or anything besides a profit play. Robert Quinn told C-SPAN:
“I think that as the privacy revolution evolves, people are going to want more control and that is the pricing model that will ultimately be what consumers want. I don’t know. Allowing the companies to meet the market demand with the business model that allows you to recover the investments you need to make to stay ahead of the game.”