Google and AT&T get in hissy fit over user privacy

We’ve all seen how Google uses targeted advertising to supply web surfers with relevant advertising. ISPs monitor traffic by a different method, deep packet inspection. Several ISPs were preparing to sell the data they have been collecting, which caught the attention of Congress.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent out letters of inquiry earlier this month to 33 companies seeking information about how network operators collect and use data.

Google replied by sidestepping their involvement by replying to most questions with a pat response, such as:

We understand this question to be focused primarily on the implementation of deep-packet inspection advertising practices by a small number of U.S. ISPs in partnership with a privately-held online advertising company.

AT&T picked up on the dodge and tried to paint themselves as a company concerned about all levels of Internet privacy. Dorothy Attwood, the company’s senior vice president for public policy had this to say in response:

We do not read the questions so narrowly. Indeed, to do so suggests that the significant policy questions posed here depend on the technology at issue. We understand your letter to be a clear inquiry into end-user/customer privacy as a whole and are responding accordingly.

In a telling sign of what’s to come, AT&T did admit that they were carefully considering monitoring their customers, but planned to “do so the right way.”

Check out all the responses, here.