Verizon Wireless starts tracking and sharing sites that users visit

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Distributed through email to all Verizon Wireless customers, the mobile provider is shifting the privacy policy and will being tracking user behavior on all Verizon Wireless devices. According to Verizon, the data collected will include all Web sites visited through a Verizon phone including keywords used in a search engine, the location of the device and all downloads of apps as well as which apps are getting the most use. In addition, Verizon will be collecting demographic information to match up against this data in addition to interest categories like sports fan, frequent diner, or pet owner. While Verizon won’t format the data to identify specific Verizon customers, the company will be aggregating the data to share with third parties. 

verizon-4g-lte-logoVerizon wants to collect and share this data with third parties to make advertisements more effective and specific to the user. The company also wants to use the data for business and marketing reports. According to the original email, all Verizon subscribers have been opted into this program without offering consent to be tracked. Fortunately, Verizon is offering two methods to opt out of being included in the new tracking changes. Current subscribers can visit the Verizon site to halt tracking or call 1-866-211-0874 to inform customer service representatives. However, this doesn’t opt subscribers out of the mobile advertisements that will be served to consumers based off the tracking data.

While this shift in the privacy policy will likely irk Verizon customers, other wireless companies like AT&T and Sprint also have tracking policies in place. For instance, Sprint retains all IP session information for 60 days and AT&T holds onto all call details as well as text messaging details for five to seven years according to a study from the ACLU. Virgin Mobile, on the other hand, doesn’t track IP session information or pictures uploaded through the mobile service.

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