Welcome to Personhood: SCOTUS Rules No Personal Privacy for AT&T

The Supreme Court, after recognizing corporations as legal persons in their Citizens United decision, has now ruled that AT&T does not have a right to personal privacy. Welcome to personhood, AT&T!

Here’s some background: AT&T over-prices some of the equipment it was selling to schools (schools!). The FCC investigates. AT&T’s competitors file a FoIA to make the investigation’s findings public. AT&T claims the FoIA request is a violation of their personal privacy. The SCOTUS denies their right to personal privacy. AT&T and other corporations join the ranks of the rest of us “persons” who are given no right to personal privacy in the US.

It’s worth remembering that this is the very same AT&T that denies their own customers a right to personal privacy. From SFGate.comwaaaaaay back in 2006:

AT&T has issued an updated privacy policy that takes effect Friday … The new policy says that AT&T — not customers — owns customers’ confidential info and can use it “to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process.”

The policy also indicates that AT&T will track the viewing habits of customers of its new video service — something that cable and satellite providers are prohibited from doing … The company’s policy overhaul follows recent reports that AT&T was one of several leading telecom providers that allowed the National Security Agency warrantless access to its voice and data networks as part of the Bush administration’s war on terror.

Irony abounds.

wiretapping – at&t’s new marketing strategy

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now, but what with article deadlines, ecycolpedia entries, the NUDA Summer School, and Euro-SSIG, I’m just now getting around to it. Back in June, at&t briefly flirted with simplify. organize. liberate?the idea of using the scandal surrounding their illegal wiretapping of U.S. citizens’ domestic and international communications as an actual marketing strategy. At the time I took screen shots and video of the campaign that was mockingly dubbed by at&t as “The Online Liberation Movement (sm).” Shortly after going live at&t pulled the entire campaign in light of public outrage.

“The Online Liberation Movement (sm),” with its “simplify. organize. liberate.” motto,  is a collection of fictitious individuals who seek cyber-liberation through at&t’s online billing system (of course). Most interesting is “Ms. Suspicious,” a member of the “movement” who is presented as a paranoid, privacy-obsessed and “suspicious” customer. Below is a video recording I made of the ad, note Ms. Suspicious’s “keep out!” post-it on her laptop and the poster behind her of Uncle Sam’s hand covering a man’s mouth above the words “SILENCE means security.”

So, why is Ms. Suspicious so damn… suspicious? It couldn’t have anything to do with at&t’s illegal partnership with the NSA to spy on Americans, their development of a mass surveillance programing language,  their recent censorship of Pearl Jam, or their anti-free speech “can’t-criticize-us” contracts that all their customers must abide by. Nope, Ms. Suspicious is just some freaky civil libertarian who needs to calm down and find liberation through at&t’s new online banking system…

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