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

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

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13 Comments

1. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

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

2. zachattack

Posts: 621; Member since: Jul 31, 2013

crap they gunna see all my nudes!

3. JoeDirt

Posts: 49; Member since: Oct 19, 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.

5. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 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...

9. downbeat4

Posts: 94; Member since: Dec 03, 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.

7. Maxwell.R

Posts: 218; Member since: Sep 20, 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

8. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 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.

11. icyrock1

Posts: 307; Member since: Mar 25, 2013

Probably a Verizon shareholder.

10. icyrock1

Posts: 307; Member since: Mar 25, 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.

13. skurfa

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 26, 2013

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

4. Furbal unregistered

Business intelligence is huge, not suprising at all.

6. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 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.

12. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3098; Member since: Jan 23, 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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