Mar 23, 2015 · 1 minute

Google built its empire by selling consumer data to advertisers. But at least where its fiber-optic Internet service is concerned, it's less invasive than AT&T.

Ars Technica reports that Google will now tailor the advertisements shown through its Google Fiber service based on its customers' viewing habits. That's a little creepy, and unless you understand nothing about Google, unsurprising.

What is surprising is that the company is telling its customers how to opt-out of the program. It will still collect information about their viewing habits, but it will no longer use that information to help companies advertise their products.

Google also hasn't started using Fiber customers' web browsing habits to inform advertisements, either on someone's television set or in their browser. The company is still devoted in large part to the systematic degradation of personal privacy -- it just hasn't yet used Fiber to aid those efforts.

AT&T has no such qualms. The company is asking consumers to pay an extra $29 per month when they sign up for its fiber-optic Internet service to ensure that their privacy isn't compromised. As I wrote when this was made public:

[The service] allows AT&T to track 'the webpages you visit, the time you spend on each, the links or ads you see and follow, and the search terms you enter.' It costs $29 less per month [than the service that doesn't gather this data] — that must be the going rate for maintaining privacy.

This tracking works regardless of a consumer’s browser settings, so even if they use the sparsely-supported 'Do Not Track' option, AT&T is going to track them. And this option, along with its $70 monthly price, is the one AT&T is pushing. Someone pinch me. A world where Google is the less-invasive of two options, especially when it has the opportunity to learn anything and everything its customers do with an Internet-connected device? This must be a weird dream.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]