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AT&T to sell your eyeballs & get cut of e-comm purchases

By deeraeya in Internet
Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:06:31 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

A new plan from AT&T to fund its broadband business is to charge web merchants when one of 'their' subscribers visits that site. Eventually they want a cut of E-commerce transactions conducted over their networks. A similar 'ownership' battle is occuring in the cellphone access market.

If is were to happen it would effectively complete the commercialization of the internet. Just for starters [he thinks as he types], it would require surveillance of internet activity, it would introduce incentives for AT&T to provide quicker connectivity to those sites which pay them more.

Who should have the right to 'sell' your attention and your purchases?

It also comes as AT&T leads the US government campaign at the World Telecommunications Standardization Association (WTSA) to continue the shameful situation whereby US Tier One ISPs charge international ISPs for access to the network and for the *burden* of carrying 'their' traffic, but refuse to pay compensation for traffic on the smaller ISPs network generated by US customers.

Will AT&T charge web merchants for bringing customers from, say Asia, and then turn around and continue to charge the Asian ISP for the *burden* of bringing that customer to the web-merchant?

The internet would never have been built by corporations (remember compuserve, e-world, MSN 1.0). Gradually they are restructuring the net to resemble how they would have built it.

Perhaps the solution lies in peer-to-peer encrypted networks, but from who will we buy connectivity?


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Related Links
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AT&T to sell your eyeballs & get cut of e-comm purchases | 6 comments (4 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
check your cable bill also... (3.42 / 7) (#1)
by jmc on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 08:41:39 PM EST

I live in an AT&T monopolized area, and this month's bill contains a fine printed pamphlet describing changes to their privacy policy... basically, that they plan to sell all their info on me to anybody with a wad of cash! There is also a form to opt out, which I took advantage of.

Why this isn't the same as 1-800 (5.00 / 2) (#4)
by katravax on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:16:21 AM EST

At a nameless MLP site (like you don't know where I mean), one of the highly modded comments on this same story was that the phone company does this on catalog sales already, because they're charging for the 1-800 call, and the company pays it. This is not a valid comparison, because the price of the call doesn't change based on whether the caller purchased something.

My opinion is that AT&T is wrong on this issue because they're not providing anything in addition to what is already being paid for. The ISPs/hosts/customers are already paying AT&T fees for network access. There is no change of service from AT&T whether the user is smurfing pr0n or buying VW Beetles online. If there were an additional QOS involved, then there may be a valid reason for this charge, but if and only if the selling company agrees to the QOS charges. Of course the charge would be passed on to the customer, but I for one consider site and network stability when purchasing online as much as I consider price. I've had too many purchases fubared by network errors.

However, this amounts to nothing more than a corporate-billed tax. The agreements signed by providers didn't state they'd pay more for network access if they were selling something. If that's not the contract under which the service was purchased, AT&T should not be able to introduce the charge afterwards, once their customer has committed to using their network.

Why open access is needed (none / 0) (#5)
by El Volio on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 11:18:16 AM EST

This is exactly why we need open access for cable ISP's. I switched from cable modem to DSL, partly for technical reasons, partly for being fed-up with not having any choice in my ToS. @Home, the only authorized ISP for AT&T Cable, acts like the customer's needs and desires are unimportant. So fine, I voted with my feet.

I understand that in many areas, people don't have that choice. @Home is their only way to get broadband. If you had a choice in your ISP, however, life would be different. You could choose an ISP that didn't have such moronic policies. Soon, every ISP would either have to change or go out of business. How many ISP's still have an hourly cap on dialup usage? Not many.

Serious Misreading of the article.... (none / 0) (#6)
by 11oh8 on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 11:08:14 PM EST

I agree that corporation$ are restructuring the net and taking away some of the characteristics that made it great... and I agree that AT&T probably isn't the most ethical company... but, i think that people are seriously misreading this article....

The poster talks about ISPs and all that but that doesn't come into play here.... AT&T is not going to charge Amazon.com if an AT&T customer buys from them.... AT&T runs several datacenters (web hosting sites) around the world...This only applies to how they charge their customers.... yes, their customers.... this won't require internet surveillance and nobody is "selling" your attention or purchases....

Currently AT&T probably charges per rackspace and bandwidth. They see that the new B2B websites where one transaction could be worth thousand of dollars are not going to be very bandwidth heavy and so they want another way to get money from their customers... They would probably keep track of the number of hits to a customer's website and require the customer to report transaction statistics.I doubt that they will bother with surveiilance (it's impossible to monitor https traffic and determine the price of a given transaction).

Actually, this might help some customers.. Say, you're a new startup and you host with AT&T... you don't have a lot of cash so you would rather pay based on how much revenue you generate... This would be a lot safer for a small new company than having a Fixed web hosting cost....

I personally don't think that this will turn out very helpful to AT&T... I don't think that most companies will be willing to pay for this and can easly host at many other datacenters that don't have such restrictions.. This is not cause for any alarm (unl;ess you're hosting sites with AT&T and even then, this would probably only apply to new contracts)


AT&T to sell your eyeballs & get cut of e-comm purchases | 6 comments (4 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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