U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal called on AT&T Friday to halt plans that offer cell phone plans partially subsidized by advertising. Blumenthal said this undermines consumer privacy, according to Reuters.
“Consumers expect that their phone and broadband providers are not spying on their phone calls and web browsing or using their private data for commercial gain,” Blumenthal wrote in a letter to AT&T Chief Executive John Stankey. The Senator’s request came after Stankey discussed a plan to discount cell phone bills as early as 2021. “I believe there’s a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a $5 or $10 reduction in their mobile bill,” Stankey said.
Though AT&T does not have a product ready yet, Stankey said the company’s engineers are working towards a solution. The company plans to use “better target advertising to consumers” to offer a “palatable” option.
Reuters reported that Blumenthal requested a response by October 18, to a list of questions that included the timing of the launch of the proposed product and whether the data would consist of phone or internet records. AT&T said in a statement it received the Senator’s letter and will respond.
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