The only winning strategy is if the FBI does investigate, and if there is an actual penalty. Nothing less will impact the long term behavior of AT&T or any other cell company.
Seriously, it is game theory. They are saying "we will stop" because of the presence of the threat. If the threat goes away, then they are going to keep making money/selling you until the threat comes back. Like the boy crying wolf, the villagers (fbi) takes longer to build momentum for the second event than for the first.
The organization is the least common denominator, so its moral capacity is the worst of a 5 year old child. Like raising/disciplining a child, the only way to change their negative behavior is to add an expected penalty to the behavior that is larger than the expected gain, so the risk-reward evaluation they make says "don't do it".
My hope would be that even if the slap is laughably small for the current offense, the thread of larger fines for continued action would be a deterrent to keep going.
My limited experience with legal issues at large companies is that once a precedent has been set for legally risky behavior, the organization becomes extremely averse to approaching that behavior again (due to optics, legal complications, etc.). AT&T doesn't strike me as a company that cares all that much about the optics from citizen customers (as opposed to business customers), but being found to be a serial violator, i would hope, would have larger consequence.
“Large company stops obviously inhumane/immoral behavior following gigantic uproar from hundreds of thousands of people after being caught red handed following years of secret misbehavior. Company Genuinely surprised, defends its actions, reluctant to stop profitable activity, but willing to do so given direct threat of action from government notoriously unwilling to stop companies doing anything.”
Just substitute in company name and alleged misbehavior and repeat over and over.
Ultimately... when it comes to a big enough company, these decisions get squirrelly from the perspective of a moderate politician.
Take VW's emsissions test cheating. They broke the law, blatantly, intentionally, for 6 years that we know of, with substantial financial and competitive gains.
In Europe (most consequences were in the US), this is even more aggregious, imo. European emissions standards, vehicle taxation and such are often designed to give locals (esp VW) an advantage in the market. VW wrote a lot of the rules they broke themselves, practically.
Anyway... Back to the moderate "jobs and harmony" politician. Handing out a genuinely sufficient (enough so that crime doesn't pay, even if you only get caught every 2nd time) penalty would endanger the solvency of the (limited liability) company. That's not good for jobs.
Genuinely pursuing criminal charges against execs is something every major company, bank and such cries "disaster" over.
It's kind of a "too big to fail" problem. Does Germany/EU care more about fairness and rule of law or about the success of the biggest German company?
This is the same story in Sweden too. For a short period, I was part of the team, and we were being asked to see how we can answer some questions with the information for something around 10k peoples information in Spain and Portugal. The way they just handed us the data and their explanation of why this is not going to bite us back made me sick and I just left right away. But the mentality of how to use these data in the business should be taught to mainstream marketers. Obfuscation of these data to not pinpoint a single person is not something that is as robust as people may think. I can easily find myself in our neighborhood since I know some key points about myself!
Statements like these should be contractually binding. It's far more effective communication than their actual contracts. And given that the only point of a contract is to solidify an agreement that two parties are knowledgeable of, it would seem that all public statements should be considered a part of said contract.
T-Mobile just did the same. I think what you'll see instead is the phone companies selling the data directly instead of through a 3rd party broker.
In response to them claiming there's legitimate uses.. there's really not. If someone needs roadside assistance you can ask if they can get your location or require the caller to have a carrier app installed that requests location data.
It's interesting that even companies that have a clear paid service do this too. Companies like Google, Facebook and all sorts of free apps, rely on their shady back-end manipulation/ads because their service is free, but that even companies who actually have a product are doing these sorts of shady things as well makes one wonder if there is a future where the web isn't so antagonistic to the users.
We need something like the GDPR in the United States. Otherwise there’s always going to be someone sleazy offering money which most managers won’t turn down — the check makes their numbers better right now and it’ll be a long time if ever before someone notices.
As much as I would love to have the protections offered by GDPR, I doubt it would even make it past a committee vote. Telecom/technology lobbyists would exert maximum pressure on legislators in order the proposal to die. There's far too much money to be made in trafficking user data.
I don’t disagree that it’ll be hard but I think there’s more awareness of the problem and rejection of “regulation is bad” propaganda than I can remember seeing before. I won’t be surprised if something happens at the state level, especially outside California.
Everyone is doing this. Not selling all your users' data is just leaving money on the table. The only holdouts are companies who've built their reputations on privacy. And probably not even all of them.
Even if they follow through and stick with it this doesn't meant they will stop collecting and storing the data. All US mobile telcos store location information for 2 to 5 years and that data is available on the drop of a hat for any federal government agency that wishes to have it.
As actual 5G multiple-in multiple-out antenna beamforming arrays and micro/nano/etc cells become more common the location data will be much more fine grained as well.
The problem here is not the commercial providers selling it to 3rd parties. The problem is them storing it for year and years. If it's there it will be used.
CNN hasn't published anything on this and they are owned by AT&T. am i being a tin-foil hat conspiracy theorist? it seems like lots of major outlets have discussed it, including their major competitor fox news.
In the near future: “AT&T said in a statement today that they stand by the views they expressed earlier regarding location sharing, saying that ‘matching customers with ads is clearly in their best interests’.”
I think it's nuts that your video rental records are better protected than your phone records and ISP records. Maybe a future administration will rebuild the anti trust departments and they will start to break apart companies like Facebook, Alphabet, and Verizon.
It may well be worth applying far stronger anti-trust to all of those, but I still think it's a mistake to lump together some companies that are merely big and have network effects with a company that has both government granted and natural monopolies on limited physical infrastructure. Given the massive backlash in just the last year against Facebook, and competitors growing vs Alphabet, it is at least arguable that it's too early for drastic steps before seeing what happens. There have been other big tech players that nevertheless got displaced over a decade or two (Xerox, IBM say). And even if they do need remedies, those may well be different remedies then what would be appropriate for Verizon (GDPR-style for example, transparency and control for people over data). There is in fact only so much available usable EM spectrum, or rights of way for cables. It's a different class of problem with different solutions and tradeoffs.
I just worry that if you lump too disparate things together it'll become an easy defense for the worst of them, and we'll end up with a situation where the likes of Verizon or Comcast or AT&T or whomever refer to themselves as part of the "Google/Facebook" group and then point to Bing and claim anti-trust is overblown. Also, reducing the most end point monopolies could have ripple effects up the stack, if everyone had content neutral symmetric WAN links closer to LAN speeds again it could significant aid decentralization, at least for the initial growth stages.
A network effect _is_ a kind of monopoly, and this monopoly power can be abused like any other. It’s harder to compete with Facebook than it would be in an idealized free market because there are only so many different platforms a user will be willing to use to keep in touch with their friends. This fact alone doesn’t automatically make Facebook evil, but does mean it deserves an appropriate level of scrutiny and regulatory oversight like companies with other kinds of monopoly power, even if the details differ.
The FTC staff had already recommended antitrust action against Google over its abuses back in 2012 but Obama killed the investigation to save them. Google was smaller back then and it was also before the EU had 3 antitrust cases against it. I fail to see how Alphabet is in a better position now. And Facebook should have never been allowed to buy WhatsApp and Instagram. It was already big enough at the time.
Indeed but when you change your ISP you are generally completely disconnected from them. Changing your search engine is just the first in a lengthy series of steps required to separate yourself from Google's data harvesting capabilities. This is why it's reasonable to declare them a monopoly.
Taking just Google Analytics as an example. A quick search  indicated that, as of 2015, around 6,950 of the top 10,000 sites by traffic use it, with 546,000 of the top million using it. I'd expect those numbers have only increased. And their analytics service is just one branch of their extremely long reach outside of their search engine. You can get away from Google search, but getting away from Google is an entirely different issue.
And those are just the ones that make it explicit. It's also pretty easy to mask usage of GA via a reverse proxy, or indirectly use GA via services such as Segment.
While both do create a degree of separation between your device and Google's servers, it still underscores your point of getting away from Google entirely being far more difficult than just avoiding Search.
It's easier to change your ISP - even in the US - than it is for your data not to land in Google's or Facebook possession somehow whether it's through web site tracking, its own services, or partnerships with hardware manufacturers and other data companies.
It is not that easy to change ISPs in the US because in a lot of cases you don't have options.
But you can do one thing. Randomly click an ad and destroy their prescious data and metrics. while reading an article that has thirty fucking ads, I'll click one or two. it has gotten interesting what pops up now. The ads sucked before.
Ad tech has not improved in 20+ years. It's delusional of sv to think it has. There is nearly a generation of people working on it, and the end result is low quality ads as if it was 1999.
> Librarians have shared ethical standards, and concern for people other than themselves. Engineers don't. The closest they get are safety standards.
I think at least this needs to say "the engineering profession" or whatever (as opposed to just "engineers"). While engineer's disease is very real, saying that engineers don't have concern for others seems an overreach.
Are there any cell providers out there that don't do this kind of shady stuff? It's unfortunate that this seems like another market failure, where consumers have no real choice and the only solution will be punishment/legislation.
also, would using a MVNO carrier prevent the tier-one carrier from having access to location data? either technically or legally? i.e. is it even possible for an MVNO to position themselves as "the carrier that doesn't do this kind of shady stuff"?
MVNOs can't really provide any protection. Google is "demanding" that their tier-one carriers don't sell their MVNO customers' data, but just by throwing their weight around. i doubt they'll continue after this blows over, and other MVNOs don't have that kind of weight.
which means every single mobile customer in the US has to choose the least shady infrastructure owner -- between ATT, Sprint, TMobile, or Verizon. those are literally the only four options in terms of which company you want to trust with a never-ending stream of your personal location data. and if you use an MVNO, chances are good that _more than one_ of these companies has access to your data.
I could be wrong, but I strongly suspect that when they say they are going to stop selling the data, what they mean is that they are going to switch over to some indirect means that is technically not selling, but accomplishes the same ends.
I don’t like the idea of my data being harvested and passed around the internet. And somebody selling my location data seems super creepy. But what exactly is this data used for? Targeted advertising? Is that it?
That should prevent carriers from being told/trivially discovering your phone number, but your cell radio might still broadcast with your IMEI, which is at least as uniquely identifying.
The best is not to have a cellular radio, or to disable physically your phone's radio (e.g. as the Librem 5 will be designed to do). If that's too difficult or involved, soft disable the radio ('airplane mode'). That, however, requires you to trust the software really does keep the radio off.
So many people up in arms about Facebook. When the reality is that both cell phone providers and ISP's ACTUALLY sell your data. Both location data and DNS query logs. But sure, let's focus on the "social media boogie man".
Define data brokering. Only Targeting isn’t brokering. Being naive and opening an app platform that allows users to give some information isn’t brokering. Selling bundles of PII without the users knowledge from quasi legal sources to companies and government agencies in digestible form is.
There are actual data brokers in the advertising industry. Seedy companies who with a tracking pixel ( or just outright data dumps ) can give you actual PII data. Facebook ( and to and extend google, althought an insane amount of malware goes thru google ads,I’m sure you’ve gotten the “you’ve won redirects”), have been putting those companies out of business.
Both Facebook and google have a ton of flaws. Facebook has been super naive on some areas. But Most of the reporting on their “data issues”, have not remotely offered a real view of the industry, or what actually happened.
Facebook may have not "sold" the data but they were "sharing" it with other companies like Huawei, Acxiom, etc. I don't see how that's any better. They were giving it in exchange for other data or favor instead of monetary compensation.
Your first line is quasi legal, and everyone agrees is bad. But no one calls it out. ( because even mighty new york times uses data brokers.. )
The other is literally how all advertising has ever worked! ( yes, cable TV was targeting you ). Yes, placing an ad in a certain location is also targeting. It's not inherently bad, it can be abused though.
The implied "please oh save us facebook", is well, WTH. Should we stop all political advertisement? should we prevent outside money in local elections? should we prevent foreigners from advertising in a different country? These are all great questions. But no one has ever had the right answers.
We're crucifying a company because they amplified society. We are asking them to solve societies evils. We are not focusing on the actual evil itself. ( sorry for the rant, but you went on one too :-P )
FB's whole business model is extreme targeting of ads based on learning everything possible about people by any means necessary, including grabbing their text messages without their knowledge. FB isn't the overworked security guard, they're the bank robber.
And yes, non-transparent targeting of opposite fact claims to different voting blocks is quite different from "put a TV spot on Conan because the young people like him", not least because anybody could see the spot on Conan, and because TV advertising is regulated.
Wifi probe request tracking is by far the biggest invasion of privacy IMO (it works even when you're not connected) yet hardly anyone talks about it.
The fact of the matter is that there's a huge market for harvested data, and corporate parasites of all kinds have slithered out of the woodwork to compete for the largest, most intimately-detailed sets of information, and none of it is consentual (in the sense that, if people were actually privy to the scale of this nightmare, no one would agree to it).