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Verizon Wireless to harvest customer data in an even more invasive fashion

Posted: , by Maxwell R.

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Verizon Wireless to harvest customer data in an even more invasive fashion
A business’ collection of its customer data is a long lived, well proven process to enable the marketplace to adapt to consumer trends. Whether we know it or not, our commerce is monitored at a granular level, and not by the NSA.

Merchants, like Verizon Wireless (or AT&T, or T-Mobile, or Sprint, or your grocery store, et al), track this information for any number of reasons, arguably all of them legitimate reasons. It could be said that when combined with credit card data, merchants and the card companies pretty much know everything they need to know about you as a consumer.

When it comes to wireless carriers, this data includes our usage and location data of our mobile devices including web browsing data. This data is valuable, and it is sold to companies that want to make and sell you more stuff, stuff that you actually have an interest in.

Verizon has “enhanced” the policy in its Relevant Mobile Advertising program. This is Big Red’s data collection program. It has always been an “opt-out” situation, and in the past, we have shared methods to help guide people through the process to opt-out.

What is a bit troubling about Verizon’s enhancements to this data gathering is that it is now going beyond mobile. “In addition to the customer information that's currently part of the program, we will soon use an anonymous, unique identifier we create when you register on our websites," according to a message sent to Verizon customers. “This identifier may allow an advertiser to use information they have about your visits to websites from your desktop computer to deliver marketing messages to mobile devices on our network.”

You read that right, Verizon Wireless will follow you from your phone to your laptop or desktop, whether Verizon is your home-ISP or not. The method is the same however, there is no new nefarious technology at work here. When you visit a Verizon owned site, or log into MyVerizon, the site’s cookies gather that data which is then combined with your mobile data.

Now if this is upsetting you, the data is broken down into anonymous demographic information, another common technique, so no, Verizon is not transmitting that “John Jones” is visiting PhoneArena.com after checking his balance on MyVerizon (apologies to any real John Jones-es out there). What is arguably more vexing is Verizon habitually automatically enrolls its customers in these “enhancements,” leaving it up to the customer to opt-out.

Love it or hate it, targeted marketing works, and it pays. Verizon (along with everyone else) gathers and sells this data. The marketers are obviously successful enough with it that they come back to buy more.

As consumers, we have the choices to block tracking cookies though our browsers, and opting-out of the programs.

source: Los Angeles Times

13 Comments
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posted on 27 Apr 2014, 16:00 5

1. 0xFFFF (Posts: 2973; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)


It's good to know all the ways that Verizon is evil.

posted on 27 Apr 2014, 16:04 3

2. zachattack (Posts: 565; Member since: 31 Jul 2013)


crap they gunna see all my nudes!

posted on 27 Apr 2014, 16:20 1

3. JoeDirt (Posts: 10; Member since: 19 Oct 2013)


"Merchants, like Verizon Wireless (or AT&T, or T-Mobile, or Sprint, or your grocery store, et al), track this information for any number of reasons, arguably all of them legitimate reasons."

"Love it or hate it, targeted marketing works, and it pays. Verizon (along with everyone else) gathers and sells this data"

Please PA. Attack ONLY Verizon with your headline. I expect an article on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Windows Phones, Android Phones and Apple to follow shortly, unless you just have a personal vendetta against Verizon. As you admitted at least twice in this article, ANY competent business is going to gather as much user data as possible. Why single out one company when clearly all the other tech companies do this as well? How about articles on escaping other company's data collection attempts? This type of journalism creates bias haters IMHO.

posted on 27 Apr 2014, 16:56 2

5. networkdood (Posts: 6267; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


Verizon and AT&T are the two worst when it comes to your data, but, I agree - we really cannot trust any tech or mobile company when it comes to our data. There are ways to stop them from collecting your data on a smartphone...

posted on 27 Apr 2014, 22:09

9. downbeat4 (Posts: 70; Member since: 03 Dec 2010)


I wouldn't be so sure about that. Ever wonder how TMobile has been able to lower their plans as much as they have? Besides the fact that their jenky service isn't worth much more.

posted on 27 Apr 2014, 17:26 3

7. Maxwell.R (Posts: 169; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)


Since it was Verizon that updated its specific policy, we covered the new accordingly. As stated though, Verizon is not the only one that does this and there simply is not room to list everyone. If such tracking is of concern to you and you want to escape all of it, you will need to disconnect your mobile phones, home internet, turn off the Xbox, cut up the credit cards, and move to a cabin in the woods and get all your food home grown and hunted.

Of course if you read the whole article, you would know that nothing in methodology really changes, just the quantity of data collected. You want to see hate, take a gander at this editorial: http://www.phonearena.com/news/FCC-limits-in-spectrum-auctions-are-a-bad-idea-it-will-hurt-T-Mobile-Sprint-and-consumers_id55201

posted on 27 Apr 2014, 21:17 1

8. 0xFFFF (Posts: 2973; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)


If there some reason you are defending Verizon's latest privacy invasion?

This is good reporting. It is an unreasonable expectation that every time one company announces new invasive data collection that PhoneArena would report on every single company doing something similar.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 00:44

11. icyrock1 (Posts: 303; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)


Probably a Verizon shareholder.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 00:32

10. icyrock1 (Posts: 303; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)


The article is about a change in policy at Verizion ONLY. So, it's obvious that only the company changing there policy will be put in the title.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 18:15

13. skurfa (Posts: 2; Member since: 26 Dec 2013)


Because Verizon is top dog, everyone likes to take potshots sat the top, that's the way it works.

posted on 27 Apr 2014, 16:21

4. Furbal (Posts: 293; Member since: 22 Sep 2012)


Business intelligence is huge, not suprising at all.

posted on 27 Apr 2014, 16:59

6. networkdood (Posts: 6267; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


There are apps out there that can monitor and restrict what data is collected. Heck, even my coolpad does that with what came with it.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 11:25

12. Crispin_Gatieza (Posts: 118; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)


We did this to ourselves. We have to know what our Facebook friends are doing at all times, we have to know when the next sale at Macy's is coming, we have to see those live tiles updating, etc. Push email should be the only "always on" connection on our phones.

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