AT&T has changed its voicemail policies to encourage customers to use passwords by default. (Andrew Harrer/BLOOMBERG)

In a blog post Friday, company chief privacy officer Robert Quinn said that all new and upgrading subscribers will see the defaults put into place. New subscribers and those with new lines will face the changes immediately. Starting in early 2012, upgrading subscribers will see the default setting when they get a new handset.

Quinn said that the company was not willing to go so far as to require that all users make use of a password, as has been suggested by privacy advocates.

“We prefer to allow our subscribers to make the choice of whether or not they want to use a password themselves.  But we are going to recommend to everyone that they choose the password option,” he wrote.

Sprint and T-Mobile also give customers the option of turning off the password protection option on their phones. Verizon requires a password at all times.

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