Verizon fined $1.35 million for illegal use of mobile traffic 'supercookies'

Verizon fined $1.35 million for illegal use of mobile traffic 'supercookies'
Earlier today, the FCC announced that Verizon agreed to pay a fine of 1.35 million for the illegal use of what privacy advocates refer to as 'supercookies'. 

Technically named Unique Identifier Headers (UIDH), supercookies are device-level identifiers that allow Verizon and its advertising partners to provide targeted ads based on user information such as gender, age range, interests, visited websites, location, and apps.

The FCC investigation into the matter found that Verizon started inserting UIDH in the mobile traffic of its consumers since back in 2012, but that the carrier did not inform its customers of such practice until October 2014. Furthermore, it took Verizon until March 2015 to update its terms of service with the proper information regarding the targeted ads program.

The FCC also says that Verizon has been inserting UIDH in the traffic of enterprise, government, and MVNO lines, which are ineligible for targeted ad programs.

Verizon has been forced to ask for consent from its consumers before sharing customer data with third-party advertising partners, which is a good thing given that researchers have shown that some of these partners are actually using the Supercookies to track the location of their customers. When it comes to using the UIDH internally, however, Verizon is given the ability to maintain its current strategy, which is to automatically register consumers to the targeted ads program and allow them to opt-out at any point.

Here's what Travis LeBlanc, Enforcement Bureau Chief at the FCC, had to say about this settlement:

source: FCC



1. Unordinary unregistered

Sadly this is just pocket change for the greediest provider in the US

9. SuperMaoriBro

Posts: 533; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

I reckon money from fines such as this should go back to the ones who's privacy was breached - the customers, although that 1.35m would probably only equate to less than a cent each (being that Im not from america i have no idea how many customers they actually have)

10. Unordinary unregistered

too many to be charging these ludicrous prices. 4 smartphone lines for the family runs us $315 a month.

2. emvxl

Posts: 140; Member since: Sep 29, 2009

Phew, Verizon can afford to pay that amount today, tomorrow and however number of days. VZW got away with that one.

3. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Wrist slap. Hell, that's not even a slap, that's a light poke. For an unforgivable, egregious exploitation of their customers. The FBI, FTC, FCC, or whatever appropriately acronym'd government agency needs to get involved and dick-slap these cunts for screwing their customers over.

5. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

4. GoTstan

Posts: 386; Member since: Jul 25, 2015

I bet they did the math on this before hand and realized that they'd make 4x the $$ on these targeted ads than the amount of the potential fine. Just a guess but I wouldn't doubt it. And as much as I despise verizon the move was smart

6. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

So basically... They made way more money by breaking the law "on purpose" than the fine. SMH.

7. Metropolis75

Posts: 197; Member since: Aug 28, 2012

I bought super cookies from some girl scouts today.

8. canner

Posts: 68; Member since: Feb 29, 2016

I cant wait to see John Legere tear into verizon for this!

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