Do The 'Smart Cities' Of Tomorrow Really Want Fraud-Plagued, NSA Pal AT&T As A Partner?
from the with-friends-like-these... dept
Cities can better manage traffic patterns of pedestrians at stadiums, parks, and busy intersections. Gun fire detection technology helps law enforcement know where a shooting occurred. It also helps them determine the number of people involved and rounds fired...AT&T is also developing a new digital dashboard that gives cities a high-level look at their communities’ conditions. The Smart City Network Operation Center (SC-NOC) offers cities a dashboard view of how assets are performing in near-real time. City officials can keep tabs on power outages, water leaks, traffic issues, and more – all from one location.AT&T's sales pitch is basically this: if you throw a few hundred million dollars at AT&T now, you're pouring the foundation for huge returns tomorrow in the form of a hyper-efficient city of the future. The problem with this entire narrative is that this is AT&T we're talking about. If you've spent the last few years truly watching what AT&T is up to and the degree to which it battles progress, the idea of the company as the cornerstone of your city's entire infrastructure ecosystem should be utterly terrifying.
AT&T's been caught advising the FBI on how best to tap dance around surveillance and privacy law via exigent letters and other informal requests for consumer data. AT&T whistle blower Mark Klein also exposed how the teclo was splitting fiber feeds and providing the NSA with real-time access to absolutely any and every shred of data touching the AT&T network. Leak upon leak has highlighted AT&T's "extreme willingness" to snuggle up to intelligence agencies to the detriment of consumer privacy and the law,
And that's just AT&T's surveillance history. The telco has also been at the heart of seemingly-endless fraud complaints over the last few years. AT&T was forced to pay numerous fines last year for extremely shady behavior, from ripping off programs intended for the poor, to enabling others to rip off programs designed for the hearing impaired. The telco was also caught repeatedly lying to its customers, and was even busted for making its bills intentionally more difficult to read -- just so scammers would have an easier time stealing AT&T customers' money.
If you review the laundry-list of clear fraud evidence, it's not hyperbole to say AT&T is one of the more dishonest (yet politically powerful) companies in America. And between AT&T's smart city initiative and the company's push into the connected automobile space (the telco struck new deals with both BMW and Ford this week) AT&T will soon be sitting on an absolute mountain of user data. It's a treasure trove of information the likes of which we've never seen collected before, in the hands of a company with such a disdain for user privacy, it has made opting out of snoopvertising a pricey, premium option for its subscribers.
Fortunately AT&T's smart city promises are just promises, and with any luck, the telco will be out-maneuvered in the internet of things space by smaller, hungrier, and more innovative and integrity-oriented companies. As the connected future looms, the smart choice for any "smart city" would be to keep AT&T far, far away from its essential infrastructure, instead partnering with companies that don't treat fraud and customer privacy violation like industrial-grade hobbies.