AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) has taken a jab at the government for trying to block it from acquiring Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX) through the antitrust lawsuit that has seen the company and the government wage a legal battle for several months. While speaking at the Code Conference at Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson defended the move saying they intend to use data from Time Warner to collect information and insights about customers on its network. Some of the information they are targeting include location of its customers as well as the media they use to consume their content.
In addition to shedding off competition from big companies like Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), AT&T intends to collect customer data, build a massive database similar to that of Facebook, Inc. Common Stock (NASDAQ:FB). The end goal is to use this database to sell ads to its customers.
Does the move contravene privacy standards?
AT&T’s move is obviously against the industry accepted norms on how to handle users’ data as well as ensuring their privacy. However, many other carriers have used a similar strategy. In 2017, Verizon acquired Yahoo and AOL and later combined the two companies to form what came to be called Oath. The main goal behind this strategy was to use data from Verizon’s network to sell ads to millions of visitors of Oath platform. Soon after its formation, Oath undertook a massive plan of buying several mid-level ad-tech companies. Verizon also inserted cookies across its network so as track all sites visited by its customers plus their phone locations.
According to Stephenson there is an increase in the consumption of premium content and this is where their ads strategy is anchored. He added that they will use their huge cache of customer data, together with the huge ad inventory from Time Warner to come up with a big ads strategy in the market. He also added that customers would benefit in terms of having an improved viewer experience.