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November 12, 2014

Verizon Wireless: 'We Know Where You Go!'

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has revealed that Verizon Wireless has equipped its phones with a special header which, when you browse, that enables advertisers to develop a customer profile on you and may be used by Verizon Wireless to enable advertisers to bid for the ads you see.

This is independent of the privacy settings that “you control”, and other than switching to a different service provider (which should not be Straight Talk, which uses Verizon Wireless) you have no ability to stop the monitoring. 

One aspect of this that is devilishly clever is that the header is an injection from the network. So Wi-Fi for browsing (obviously not from a Verizon MiFi service) may be OK.

Currently this “service” seems to be applied to about 100,000 customers only (about 5 percent of the total subscriber base). To see if you are one of them, you can use your Verizon phone to search by going HERE. Whether this service will grow to include all their customers is unclear, but I would suggest checking regularly.

Now, here is where I get into trouble. On the land-line side of the business, the rule is that Customer Proprietary Network Information [CPNI] is in effect and ensures your privacy. Those rules don’t exist for wireless. Should they? Given all that is done by Facebook and others, should we accept the concept that the carrier has the right to be just like every other site on the Internet?

Facebook tracks us after we leave Facebook, so why not Verizon Wireless?

In addition, if the FCC does turn off the PSTN by 2018, will the rules of CPNI disappear?

Last but not least, all the advocates for Net Neutrality now have a possible smoking gun. It’s unclear if this network of auction-participation advertisers has additional network connectivity from Verizon Wireless or not. It does seem logical that some additional (and perhaps preferential delivery) is part of this “service.”

If you don’t care about your privacy on the Web that’s fine, but it would be nice to have some control available to you.


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