Did AT&T Lie To Congress About Using Behavioral Advertising?

from the questions-questions-questions dept

Congress is apparently holding hearings this week about behavioral advertising -- the controversial online practice of targeting ads to people based on where they surf. In the past, Congress has suggested that firms such as NebuAd that do this are breaking the law. However, it appears that AT&T may have been less than truthful in its own testimony. The company took a hardline stance against behavioral advertising that wasn't clear and set up as an opt-in approach. Yet, as MediaPost notes, a top behavioral advertising company named Audience Science, lists AT&T as a customer and has a testimonial on the site. When a Congressional Rep asked AT&T's policy VP who was testifying about the company (accidentally calling it "Audio Science"), AT&T claimed it didn't have a relationship with the company. When the MediaPost reporter asked Audience Science about all of this, AT&T's logo suddenly disappeared from the company's website.

Now, it seems quite likely that this is all a rather innocent mistake -- and the AT&T VP, Dorothy Attwood, simply didn't know about the company's relationship with Audience Science. AT&T is a big company, and certainly the left hand might not always know what the right hand is doing -- but that's a big part of the problem here. Even when an official company policy might be to avoid these sorts of things, there's as half decent chance that someone lower down on the totem pole has signed off on a deal to make use of these technologies.


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  1.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 6:22pm

    Even when an official company policy might be to avoid these sorts of things, there's a half decent chance that someone lower down on the totem pole has signed off on a deal to make use of these technologies. I can see how that happens very easily. Having been a "middle" manager, I've put up with with many a upper level manager who would freak out if goals aren't met, and wouldn't care if company policy was broken if they could meet their goals, so long as they had plausible deniability, ie: hey, I never approved that and fire the underling. Pursuit of the almighty dollar trumps everything in corporate America. especially something as "flimsy" as ethics and policies.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 6:24pm

    Nope, Still a Lie

    Now, it seems quite likely that this is all a rather innocent mistake -- and the AT&T VP, Dorothy Attwood, simply didn't know about the company's relationship with Audience Science.

    Nope, if she wasn't in a position to know then that is what she should have said. So to have claimed that AT&T didn't have a relationship with the company if she wasn't in such a position would still be a lie.

    About the only way that it wouldn't be lying would be if some unauthorized group of people formed a conspiracy within AT&T to defraud AT&T by secretly engaging in such actions using company resources against the will of the company. In that case, once the matter came to light the company should have referred the matter to the FBI for felony criminal prosecution. They apparently haven't done so which leads me to believe that that wasn't the case.

    But hey, these types get away with perjury before congress on a seemingly regular basis.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Matthew Henry, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 7:32pm

    Here are the two links that show the original version of AudienceScience's site and the redacted version. The testimonial is made by an employee of a consulting company named Mediaedge:cia.

    Original on 04/18/09:
    http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:_AX4O5IBBfEJ:www.audiencescience.com/advertiser_partners/test imonials.asp+%22audience+science%22+at%26t&cd=7&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firef ox-a

    Redacted now:
    http://www.audiencescience.com/advertiser_partners/testimonials.asp

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    femtobeam, Apr 25th, 2009 @ 4:19am

    Neuromarketing and AT&T

    From Mathew Henry's post of links concerning testimony by AT&T concerning behavioral marketing by Audience Science:

    "When we PARTNER with AudienceScience we have ACCESS to WEALTH of information FROM analytics to BRAIN POWER. It’s not just about proposals and TRACKING STUDIES. They actually GIVE US one-on-one TIME WITH those “SCIENTISTS” usually KEPT IN SOME BACK ROOM WITH DIM LIGHTING. And that makes a huge difference in how well our behaviorally targeted campaigns perform." Jerry May from WongDoody

    This absolutely infuriates me. It is proof that the legal team of AT&T, namely Wiley Rein was using government funds for the Spy program to give Chinese businessmen ACCESS to the brains of scientists, just like the testimony in their other loophole with Israel Zerhouni of the NIH clearly showed. During hearings on "preventative health" he held up brain interface devices and said "This is how the scientists communicate with one another." Then he laughed with the Senator from North Dakota about how much more expedient it is to steal from scientists than to pay them. AT&T has done more that lie to Congress about behavioral marketing. They have consigned thousands of scientists into virtual slavery and before it is done, millions of women and girls into the Wiley Rein led contracts with the pervert, Howard Stern and Sirius. Then of course, they wanted immunity from prosecution, while making money off of stolen Intellectual Property from the few remaining scientists who are still alive and living outside of the insane asylums. Those are the dimly lit rooms where they are being kept, put there by false information from thieves and left there to rot without a way to redress grievances. If this situation is not met with clear opposition, it will result in a dismal future of intellectual slavery in virtual environments and communist/fascist rule.

    Of course they knew. They are the ones who put together the deals, riding on the same wave of stolen assets they used to build their network, like BCCI funds and stolen technology from Nobel Prize winners who have commercial rights to the technology they took to use on these poor people. Save our Scientists!
    Thanks Mathew for this EVIDENCE.

    Now, if only the FBI system was not comprimised by partners of AT&T masquerading as honest Infraguard agents on a system put there by another partner, SAIC. It is a business deal in the works with foreign powers for more than 2 decades now.

     

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  5.  
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    alternatives(), Apr 26th, 2009 @ 9:47am

    Not the 1st time AT&T has fibbed to the Gov.

    They told the FBI that DNR (Dial Number Recorders) were hard back in the day. Busted by Esquire in the Capt. Crunch interview.

    Same with the millions of lost value with the Craig Neidorf PHRACK E911 document lawsuit. Over 6 figures in legal expenses for Craig in defense. It was so bad that the judge called a halt to the trial when the lie was found out.

     

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  6.  
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    net625, Apr 26th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Terms of service

    In Att's terms of service, it says that they will drop a tracking cookie on your computer to see how you use their website so that they can give you better service. I think that says that they track your internet usage to best throw adds at you. I think that's behavioral advertising, And I dumbly agreed to it:(

     

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  7.  
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    KTG, Apr 26th, 2009 @ 7:06pm

    Behavioral advertising is still a fairly opaque operation to the average consumer. Better it gets attention now than when it becomes common place. I use the privacy section here: http://www.justaskgemalto.com/en/search/node/privacy.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Phil, Apr 27th, 2009 @ 5:41am

    Re:

    Behavioral advertising is still a fairly opaque operation to the average consumer. Better it gets attention now than when it becomes common place.

    Isn't it already commonplace?

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    AT&Tards, Apr 27th, 2009 @ 12:52pm

    ads??? what ads???

    AT&T...

    - place a bandwidth cap on our customers internet usage.
    - push behavioral ads to all our customers browsers.
    - Customers blocks adds in their browsers BECAUSE THEY HAVE A BANDWIDTH CAP ON THEIR INTERNET USAGE.
    - Profit????

    Dillholes.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Apr 27th, 2009 @ 7:05pm

    I'm not sure congress could understand something that's not a lie.

     

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