AT&T on Monday announced the launch of its fiber Internet service in the Kansas City area, the same market that Google targeted in its initial fiber rollout more than two and a half years ago. While AT&T’s service checks in at the same $70 per month rate as Google Fiber, that price point is only honored if you agree to let the telecom track your browsing history.
Just as it did during its Austin launch in late 2013, AT&T is offering two different prices based on whether or not users agree to participate in its Internet Preferences program.
Under this program, AT&T has the right to collect information about the websites you visit, the time you spend on each site, the links or ads you see and follow and the search terms you enter. This information is then used to tailor ads and offers to your interests which can arrive as online ads, via e-mail or even through direct mail via the postal service.
It’s worth noting that this works independently of your browser’s privacy settings regarding cookies, do-not-track and private browsing. What this means is that if you opt-in to AT&T Internet Preferences, they’ll be able to gather information regardless of privacy settings you select in your browser.
Of course, you can opt not to participate in this program but it’ll cost you. As Ars Technica points out, Kansas City residents that don’t want to be tracked will be charged an extra $29 per month which brings the total cost up to $99 per month for the Internet-only package.
Interestingly enough, AT&T labels its Internet Preferences tracking program as a “premier” offering while the connection without tracking is deemed a “standard” offer.
In fairness, Google also collects information from its Fiber subscribers although said data appears to only be used for network management, security or maintenance. More on their policy can be found in the company’s privacy notice for Fiber users.