AT&T Announces Sponsored Data

There is no doubt that privacy is getting more visibility than ever with the NSA leaks of late. A lot of people are opting for more secure services, apps, and hardware. This often comes at a price as these services are harder to engineer and maintain, they're not usually given away for free. The exception is Kim Dotcom's MEGA service with 50GB of free ultra secure cloud storage.

AT&T announced sponsored data plans today that allow providers to pay for the data that you use on your mobile device while using their services. Imagine streaming Netflix without it counting toward your 2GB data cap, seems neat right? Well the financial savings represent the most obvious upside, the privacy issue presents the largest down side. Your data and your usage are now bought and paid for by someone else, meaning they own it.

This isn't to say that sponsored data is bad in all regards, sponsored Netflix seems like the most obvious win since they already know what you're watching, you're not really revealing anything. Where do you draw the line though? Will AT&T give you fine control over this, or will it be fully opt-in or opt-out? From the looks of the press release, users will get this new sponsored data automatically, there is no mention of an opt-out policy.

I think there is room for both sides of this privacy issue to win - sponsored data and secure data. I think there are appropriate times to use both. However, I do not expect to be able to really balance the two any time soon, it'll be all or nothing for a while.