– Verizon Wireless Now Collecting Your Web, Location, App Data (PC Magazine, Oct. 13, 2011):
For the last month, Verizon Wireless has been notifying customers through email of a major change to its default privacy setting: it will begin collecting your Web browsing history, cell phone location and app usage, for third-party marketing purposes.
You can opt out of such surveillance, although Verizon has promised not to share any identifiable information with these third-party companies.
If you stay opted in, you’ll eventually start seeing more personalized ads while surfing on your mobile devices, or even when using Verizon FiOS Internet, DSL, or other dial-up services, said Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson.
The revisions all have to do with a new targeted advertising service that Verizon is offering other companies. The Verizon Online relevant ads program is two-fold. First, it produces business and marketing reports, and second, Verizon aims to sell more targeted ad space.
“For the business and marketing reports offered by Verizon Wireless, records about Web sites visited, cell phone locations and other consumer data will be combined (or aggregated) to compile reports that provide businesses with insights about their customers,” Nelson said. “For example, these insights may include the demographics (age ranges, gender, etc.) and interests (such as ‘pet lovers’ or ‘tennis enthusiasts’) of visitors to a Web site, or commuters who might pass an outdoor billboard. These aggregate reports could be used by Web publishers to help provide content that is more appealing to users, or to help advertisers better select the ads they will display on outdoor billboards or at other venues.”
As for those who are concerned about Verizon collecting their data on an opt-out basis, Nelson said “protecting data and safeguarding privacy are high priorities at Verizon.”
Similar information is already collected by Google, Facebook, AOL, and others. Didn’t get an email from Verizon? Check your inbox for a message sent by “Verizon Notification” with subject line, “Service Update – Manage Your On-Line Preferences.”
You can read about all the changes on Verizon’s Web site, or check out Verizon’s chart on the changes below. The Web form to opt out is also available online, or you can call Verizon at 1-866-211-0874.