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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week

1. Ma Bell Knows Best

AT&T (T) just wants to share.

The San Antonio, Texas, telco blundered into controversy again this week when it mailed out a new privacy policy.

AT&T says the new statement continues its practice of not sharing customer data with third parties for marketing purposes. But the San Francisco Chronicle notes that AT&T grants itself greater latitude to share with the government.

If that rings a bell, it's because just last month AT&T and other big phone companies came under attack for reportedly handing information over to the feds. A lawsuit by a privacy rights group contends that AT&T has given the National Security Agency real-time access to Internet communications.

Now, the Chronicle reports, AT&T is going a step further. The new policy advises Internet and video subscribers that AT&T plans to track their viewing habits. AT&T also lays claim to the use of customer data "to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others or respond to legal process."

Safeguarding others is no doubt AT&T's top priority, just as Verizon's (VZ) mission is to thwart fiendish terrorists. AT&T tells the The New York Times the policy changes aim to purge the privacy statement of legalese.

But what AT&T's new privacy statement really cuts down on is privacy.

Dumb-o-Meter score: 93. Maybe AT&T just wants independent confirmation that there's 57 channels and nothin' on.

To view Colin Barr's video take on AT&T's entry in Five Dumbest this week, click here.

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