AT&T is ending a controversial program that charged extra to high-speed Internet customers if they didn’t agree to let the carrier track their online activity to sell targeted advertising.
Under AT&T’s Gigapower high-speed Internet service, customers could only get the lowest available rate if they agreed to let AT&T track their activity. Customers who wanted to maintain the privacy of their online life typically had to pay $30 more per month.
“To simplify our offering for our customers, we plan to end the optional Internet Preferences advertising program related to our fastest internet speed tiers,” AT&T said in a statement on Friday. “As a result, all customers on these tiers will receive the best rate we have available for their speed tier in their area. We’ll begin communicating this update to customers early next week.”
The policy change was reported earlier by web site Ars Technica.
The moves as federal regulators are considering imposing new privacy protection rules on Internet service providers. In March, the Federal Communications Commission released proposed rules to give consumers more say over how their online data is collected and used. Under the proposal, service providers would be required to get consumer’s consent before tracking and sharing data about online activity.
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AT&T’s fiber optic Gigapower service, which reaches gigabit speeds, was initially positioned as a competitor to Google’s similar Fiber offering. But while Google (GOOGL) has been slowing its Fiber expansion, AT&T (T) says Gigapower is available in over two dozen metro areas including Dallas, Miami, and Chicago with more on the way.
Even when customers allowed the tracking, AT&T did not monitor encrypted activity with secure web sites, like banks and payment services. And AT&T said it did not sell any of the tracking data to third party, only using it to target online advertising.