Verizon fined $1.35 million for tracking customers without them even knowing

verizon plans explained store
After going back and forth with the Federal Communications Commission, Verizon agreed to settle with the agency over its use of Unique Identifier Headers (UIHDs).

Better known as supercookies, these device-level identifiers allow Big Red and its advertising partners to deliver targeted ads based on customer information, such as age, gender, location, apps, websites that customers visit, and interests. Unfortunately, according to the FCC, Verizon abused these supercookies by inserting them into its customers’ mobile traffic in 2012 and not letting them know about it until October 2014. In addition, it took Big Red another five months to update its terms of service to include information regarding its targeted ads program.

Furthermore, Verizon also injected supercookies into enterprise, government, and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) lines, all of which are ineligible for targeted ad programs.

According to FCC enforcement bureau chief Travis LeBlanc, this is a matter of protecting customer privacy, though he has implied there is a degree of tracking that is acceptable. “Consumers care about privacy and should have a say in how their personal information is used, especially when it comes to who knows what they’re doing online. Privacy and innovation are not incompatible,” said LeBlanc. “This agreement shows that companies can offer meaningful transparency and consumer choice while at the same time continuing to innovate.”

As part of the $1.35 million settlement, Verizon is not only required to turn the data sharing into an opt-in, rather than an opt-out, affair, but also inform customers about its targeted ads program. According to Big Red, it’s already begun working on the latter.

“Over the past year, we have made several changes to our advertising programs that have provided consumers with even more options,” said Verizon regulatory spokesperson Rich Young. “Today’s settlement with the FCC recognizes that. We will continue to give customers the information they need to decide what programs and services are right for them.”

Computing

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…
Mobile

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.
Social Media

Facebook axes alleged discriminatory targeting of ads after civil settlements

Facebook advertisers can no longer use targeting for age, gender or zip code when advertising in the housing, jobs, and credit categories. The changes come as part of a civil settlement, following earlier changes to remove racial targeting.
Mobile

Scientists wreck a smartphone in a blender, but not just for fun

It’s oddly mesmerizing to watch a smartphone get torn apart inside a blender. Researchers recently did just that in a bid to find out which materials make up a handset, and also to encourage people to think more about recycling.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is minutes away: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Wearables

This $76,000 Grand Seiko watch has something in common with a plug-in hybrid car

How can a watch that costs $76,000 possibly have anything in a common with any car, let alone a plug-in hybrid? It's all about the complex, technically incredible Spring Drive movement inside this Grand Seiko watch.
Deals

The excellent Apple iPad gets even deeper price cuts on Amazon

The humble iPad from 2018 is still one of the best tablets around -- and a solid choice for most people. Amazon has seen some great price drops for these tablets recently, and now you can own an iPad for even less than before.
Mobile

More than a screenshot: How to record the screen on an Android device

If you've ever want to record video of your Android screen, there are plenty of apps that can help. Here's an easy guide on how to record the screen on an Android device with the right settings and apps.
Apple

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…
Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.
Mobile

Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for and start using with your iPhone

Apple is getting into the credit card business. Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for directly on your iPhone, and it doesn't have fees. There's a lower interest rate and you can even get Daily Cash from all purchases.
Gaming

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.
Mobile

Check out 22 of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers for your shiny new phone

The iPhone 7 might be attractive, but it’s not rugged. To keep your device in pristine condition, you really need to think about proper protection. That's why we've rounded up some of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers available.