De Facto Privacy Settings on Verizon Puts User Info on Sale
Wireless carrier Verizon may sell data of new customers, including web search history, to marketers unless the clients opt-out within 30 days of signing the contract, revealed blogger Bryan Clark, a new Verizon customer himself.
“New Verizon customers like us have 30 days to opt-out from them selling your Web history and device location to marketers,” Bryan Clark’s wrote.
The news raises further concerns that mobile phone and computer use is far from private, but rather used as marketing info to better sell products online. Localized marketing campaigns have been the debatable since aggressive Android adware was first spotted in Google Play, but companies often offer the defense that the info they’re selling is not personally identifiable.
“Our customers can change their privacy preferences at any time,” said a Verizon spokeswoman. “The 30-day window is essentially the initial time frame so customers can read and look at their options, but again, they can change them any time through MyVerizon.”
Other carriers have admitted to collecting and offering marketers location-based services info, known as “Customer Proprietary Network Information.” Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile have similar policies and the customer privacy information says user consent on sharing this information “is sometimes implicit.”
“We may obtain your consent in several ways, such as in writing; online, through ‘click-through’ agreements; orally, including through interactive voice response; or when your consent is part of this policy or the terms and conditions pursuant to which we provide you service. Your consent is sometimes implicit,” says T-Mobile’s privacy information page.
Security experts warn users to carefully read app permissions and be aware of what information they publicly share. Aggressive adware that uses localization is common on smart phones. Marketing campaigns are increasingly based on user data collected by apps or carriers.
“We’ve been letting people know that apps have been profiling and tracking users for a long time, ” said Catalin Cosoi, Bitdefender’s Chief Security Strategist. “But it seems that wireless carriers have been willingly leaking this data for profit as well.”