Verizon Wireless has been collecting information about you without your consent. And now it has to pay up.
$1.35 million settlement reached
A $1.35 million settlement was reached between Verizon and the Federal Communications Commission due to Verizon’s use of ‘supercookies’ — digital data that is collected and used to target advertising to customers without their permission.
The FCC discovered, after a 15-month investigation, that even though subscribers deleted cookies from their mobile browsers, Verizon still used unique codes, or ‘supercookies,’ to gather information about them — by doing things like following a user’s browsing history, according to the New York Times.
In March of 2015, after the investigation began, Verizon created a way for subscribers to opt out of being tracked by supercookies.
Richard Young, a Verizon Wireless spokesperson said, ‘Over the past year, we have made several changes to our advertising programs that have provided consumers with even more options. Today’s settlement with the FCC recognizes that.’
Now the telecommunications giant must get permission from subscribers before sharing information about them with advertisers or third parties, and it must also notify customers about its data collection policies.
The FCC came to this decision based on net neutrality rules, saying that wireless service providers must be transparent about their data collection policies, especially related to privacy. Travis LeBlanc, FCC enforcement bureau chief, said, ‘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.’
As early as November 2014, consumer groups started voicing their concerns about Verizon’s data collection tactics, and though AT&T experimented with supercookies,Verizon is the only company to date that has used this technology to track customer information.
How to opt out of supercookies
However, Verizon customers who are concerned about their security aren’t completely out of the woods when it comes to privacy. In order to opt out of supercookie tracking, customers will need to call 866-211-0874 or opt out by following these steps on Verizon’s website.