Verizon is automatically tracking subscribers; here's how you can opt out
CORRECTION: Verizon no longer owns Yahoo. It was part of Verizon Media Group which was sold to Apollo as of September 1st.
Verizon has recently been promoting its new Custom Experience programs by sending out emails to customers telling them all about it. The programs allow the nation's largest wireless carrier to track the location of devices, the phone numbers that you call, and more. And to top it off, the company is automatically enrolling its subscribers into the programs.
How to opt-out of Verizon's Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus programs
That doesn't seem right, does it. However, you can easily opt out of the Custom Experience program, according to Input, and we will show you how to do it. First, open the My Verizon app and tap the Settings gear icon at the top right of the screen. Under the Preferences heading, tap on Manage privacy settings and select the phone number that you want to opt out of the program.
You can opt-out of Verizon's new Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus programs
Next, toggle off Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus. It will take you two attempts to log out of each one. According to the carrier, Custom Experience helps Verizon personalize its communications with you so that it can give you more relevant recommendations when it comes to wireless plans, and the phones you should consider buying. It also helps Verizon develop plans and services that you might find more attractive.
To do so, the carrier says that it "uses information about websites you visit and apps you use on your mobile device to help us better understand your interests like 'sports lover' or 'outdoor enthusiast.' We protect your information and use it only for Verizon purposes; we do not sell information we use in the program to others for them to use for their own advertising."
Custom Experience Plus not only uses information about websites you visit and apps you use but also adds device location and Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI), including phone numbers you call or call you to help understand your interests. For example, Verizon can use this data to determine if you are a "sports lover" or a "gamer." Similar to the non-Plus version of Custom Experience that we told you about above, Verizon says that under federal law, it must protect your information and use it only for Verizon purposes.
Verizon says that you must opt-in to participate in the Custom Experience Plus program, yet it was toggled on for this writer's phone line without permission. The non-Plus Custom Experience doesn't require you to opt-in to be activated, but you can opt out. Still, we're curious and don't quite understand how the carrier can automatically enroll you in a plan that requires you to opt-in to participate.
Verizon says that it shares account, device, and profile data related to your Verizon account to third party firms
The same page where you can opt-out of Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus also includes Custom Experience Settings and Identity Verification Settings. Tap on the former and the Reset button on the bottom of the screen on the next page, and Verizon will stop using the web browsing and location data it previously collected as part of the programs.
Tap on Identity Verification Settings and toggle off "Participating" and you'll be opting out of a program that allows Verizon to provide certain account, device, and profile data related to your Verizon account to third parties. The company says that this information is used to verify your identity and protect you from identity theft and account takeover. Verizon does warn you that "by opting out, your information will not be sent to companies requesting the information. These third-party services may be disrupted or may not work.
We should also note that when Verizon says it only uses your data for Verizon purposes, that could include Yahoo which Verizon bought for $4.4 billion in 2016.