Up until now, one of the larger reasons why I haven’t been too keen on Apple’s iPhone is that it’s locked to AT&T Wireless service, and in general, I’m a believer in the argument that AT&T is one of the more loathsome companies out there — the company has cooperated with the NSA, the RIAA and the MPAA to invade the privacy of its customers, it continues to charge iPhone users a $175 early-termination fee for canceling their contracts despite the fact that those users paid full-price for their phones (and thus, no argument about repaying them for a subsidized phone exists), and despite clear rulings that say it has to offer $10 DSL in certain markets, AT&T is doing everything it can to mislead consumers, bury the existence of the option, and generally obstruct people from signing up for the plan. Thus, when reasonable alternatives exist, I generally like to take them, and for that reason (and a few others), Shannon and I have remained Verizon Wireless customers. (Note that I’m not saying VZW is the paragon of greatness — but up until now, I’ve been pretty satisfied that the company’s efforts to screw me aren’t above the norm that we’ve come to expect in the cellphone industry.)

However, over the past week or two, bits of info have come out that might force me to rethink things a bit. First, I got a notice in the mail two weeks ago to let me know that Verizon wanted to share my personal info and calling habits with “authorized companies”, and that if I wished to prevent this, I had to call them and opt out of their plans. That was a little annoying. (Consumerist mentioned the notice in mid-September.) Then today, the Washington Post reported that Verizon has been turning over calling records to federal authorities without warrants for years, claiming that it doesn’t investigate the “legality or necessity” of the requests, because “to do so would slow efforts to save lives in criminal investigations.” While I understand the sentiment, I’m somewhat aghast at this — if Verizon really claims that see no need to evaluate whether a request to share their customers’ information is valid and legal, then I’m not sure I have a need to give them my money.

Unfortunately, though, with every day’s news it becomes clearer that all of the various telecom companies are both doing everything they can to screw their customers and get as cozy with federal law enforcement officials as they can. Thus, I’m not sure that privacy concerns constitute a reason to rethink a telecom choice anymore… food for thought, indeed.


I’ve heard genuinely terrible things about their customer service, Jason, but Qwest pretty clearly did the right thing in terms of releasing customer records to the Feds.

• Posted by: Steve on Oct 17, 2007, 2:46 PM
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