Thursday, June 22, 2006

Yow -- One post per week?

Ah, as work continues on the website construction, on my freelance gigs, on the early summer travel and obligations, and as time to work on the computer becomes tighter and more complicated, I'm losing ground on the ol' blog, aren't I? Apologies to those who used to frequent this venue. I hope to be back up to speed soon, and again make this a livelier read.

In the meantime, suffice to say I'm scrambling all over the state on various errands, including yesterday's talk at the Bixby Library in Vergennes, VT. Next week is the first of the Center for Cartoon Studies summer workshops, which I'll be teaching at Monday, Tuesday and Friday -- just got off the phone with CCS co-founder/honcho James Sturm as we tighten and tweak our Monday-Tuesday sessions. I'll see at least a couple of you there!

More later -- back to the daily email grind --
21st Century Corporate Revisionism: We OWN Your Ass

Time to be attentive, folks.

With a relatively minor news item from yesterday, 21st Century corporate "customer relations" policies took a major turn.

Yesterday AT&T redefined its corporate privacy and ownership (of your info) policies in a manner that completely redefines the entire landscape. This will have major repercussions, as other telecommunication firms and corporate entities quickly follow suit, most likely with relative invisibility. I mean, how many of you really read that fine print accompanying your bills? Before you click "I accept" online?

I heard this last night as an addendum sign-off item on National Public Radio's Marketplace program, and went looking this morning for more information. According to Reuters, "AT&T Inc. said on Wednesday it was revising its privacy policy, explaining to customers that it owns their phone records and can hand them over to law enforcers if necessary.... The changes take effect on Friday and come at a time when AT&T and other phone companies face lawsuits claiming they aided a U.S. government domestic spying program by giving the National Security Agency call records of millions of customers without their permission."

Got that? As of tomorrow, the rules have changed -- in a major way.

Of course, AT & T is softballing this news. "AT&T said the updated policy was aimed at helping customers understand its practices better and does not change how it treats customer information.... The new policy, unlike the old one, spells out the fact that AT&T owns its customers data. It says that customer information constitutes "business records that are owned by AT&T. As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process."

I love how they spin this.

The policy is "aimed at helping" you -- not profitting AT&T and getting their fat out of the various legal fires our Emperial Grand Ominpotent Stomper Prez's phone-tapping policies created by changing all the rules and thus releasing/selling your info as they see fit -- thus protecting and profitting AT&T beyond what was reality until tomorrow morning.

Got that?

Furthermore, "Under the new policy, which was being mailed out to AT&T's more than 7 million Internet customers, the company also said that it would track viewing information for customers of a television service it is developing in order to help it make recommendations to customers based on their viewing habits.... It also said that before customers use its services they must agree to the policy, an element that was not in its previous guidelines."

Though, since this is in effect as of Friday, you gotta make up your minds FAST -- though, according to Spokesman Michael Coe said the company, which was formed in November by the merger of AT&T Corp. and SBC Communications Inc., had been working on the new policy for the last six months. "We are not changing how we treat customer information," said Coe. "We updated our policy to make the language clearer and easier for our customers to understand."

AT&T and their banks of attornies and research experts take six months to design, streamline and spin this radical new policy, with multiple paths of legal, business and industry venues extrapolated and determined -- you've got two fucking days to sign on or -- or what?

This is not to be ignored or brushed aside.

This is a curious synthesis of government fascism -- the "is it legal? It must be legal? The President is King" surveillance policies -- and the dominant cabal of oligarchs reeling from the unexpected consequences of their presumptive complicity neatly side-stepping accountability while beefing up their bottom-line windfall by completely redefining reality according to their business and legal needs.

This is another profound erosion of our illusory democracy, and firmer bedrock for the reigning plutocracy.

This is another step in our lifetimes toward corporate redefinitions of our reality, the rules of the game, and what of your own information and personal life you own.

For more info, go to
  • read the whole story --
  • and
  • check other versions and variable of the story here --
  • -- then do your homework.