The Silly Verizon Privacy Brouhaha


As a new Verizon customer I was somewhat concerned when Ben Brooks and others warned of the telecom company selling your web history and device location. After looking into it, I think the issue is overblown.

Here’s what Verizon is using and how they’re using it:

Verizon Wireless collects certain information…such as quantity, technical configuration, type, destination, location and amount of use of the telecommunications services you purchase.

The company says they or their affiliates or subsidiaries will use this information to promote Verizon’s products and services to you. Opting out of this doesn’t mean that they won’t stop marketing to you; it only means that when they do the offers won’t be relevant.

Verizon Wireless may use mobile usage information and consumer Information for certain business and marketing reports. Mobile usage information includes the addresses or information in URLs (such as search terms) of websites you visit when you use our wireless service, the location of your device (“Location Information”), and your use of applications and features….

This appears to be an egregious violation of privacy; however, this information is aggregated and will not personally identify you. Also, opting out of this does not mean that the information will not be collected. If you’re concerned that your web history is being collected, then perhaps you should be using a VPN like Cloak or Hotspot Shield on all of your devices that access the Internet. Oh, and stop using Google.

When you use your wireless device, you often see advertising on websites and apps. Using the postal address we have for you and certain consumer information such as your device type, language preference and demographic and interest categories provided to us…we will determine whether you fit within an audience category that an advertiser is trying to reach.

Again, no personally-identifiable information is shared (or sold). Opting out means only that ads you see may be less relevant—you will still see advertising.

Even so, I will be opting-out (yes, Verizon makes this opt-out instead of opt-in) of those programs—just as soon as Verizon fixes their web portal and accepts my requested changes.