Verizon draws media attention for selling customers' usage data

By on October 17, 2012, 2:00 PM

A new report claims Verizon Wireless is selling usage data about their customers to third party marketers. Information including app usage, geographical location and Internet browsing activity is all fair game. Furthermore, the carrier says they may even link the data to other databases that contain more detailed information such as a customers’ age or gender and information about hobbies, pets and favorite restaurants.

It’s all part of an initiative called Precision Market Insights that the wireless carrier says is 100 percent legal due to the fact that data is aggregated and doesn’t reveal a customer’s identity.

Earlier this year, Verizon Wireless marketing chief Bill Diggins outlined some of the powerful (and scary) capabilities that Big Red has over their subscribers and more specifically, what customers do on their phones. He told those in attendance that Verizon was able to analyze what people are viewing on their handsets, determine what apps they are using and even obtain information about social network usage.

Diggins believes this is where the industry is going and even said that data is the new oil. The problem with that statement, of course, is that oil doesn’t have personal user information attached to it.

Whether the act is legal or not still remains to be seen. But some people like staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury from the Electronic Frontier Foundation believe Verizon may be violating the Wiretap Act.

"I don't see any substantive difference between collecting content from one person and turning it over to someone, and collecting it from multiple people, aggregating that information and then turning the aggregated data over to someone else," Fakhoury said. "In the end, there is still a capturing of content from the user at some point -- and that's what the potential (Wiretap Act) problem is."

Customers have the option to opt-out at any time, according to a statement from Verizon.




User Comments: 11

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2 people like this | Tygerstrike said:

Really?? I have never recieved an email,text, or any other information to my handset or email explaining what Verizon is doing and how to opt out of this. Not that I have anything to hide, but this does smack of wiretap. I could care less what Verizon sees me viewing or useing. But to turn around and sell that information for profit. That kinda irks me. If they are going to use my Data, where is my share?? I dont see any discounts on my bill. Nor have I recieved any credits from them. I think Im going to call Verizon Customer Service and voice my displeasure with this and find out how to opt out of it. I suggest that you all do the same thing. Make them pay you for your information. How dare they profit off you w/o offer some compensation!!! My information is my information and I have only agreed that Verizon can use it for thier use to increase network performance. Not profit off of it by selling it to others who have no right to that information.

psycros psycros said:

"It?s all part of an initiative called Precision Market Insights that the wireless carrier says is 100 percent legal due to the fact that data is aggregated and doesn?t reveal a customer?s identity."

It most certainly <b>is</b> illegal because customers were never offered an opt-out. If Verizon did not actively contact its customers, either with a billling insert, email or whatever, then their in violation of several privacy laws. I hope the inevitable class action is monumental in its punitive monetary rewards.

Guest said:

Why would anyone care? its all anonymous and has no impact what so ever on you... worry about something else, don't be stupid.

1 person liked this | Scshadow said:

Data is the new oil? Really? How many miles per MB do they get?

Its things like this that makes it imperative in my opinion to install custom roms. Remove as much carrier junk as you can.

Tygerstrike said:

@ Guest.

You need to worry more. They CLAIM its aggregated information. The reality is that we dont know for sure if it is indeed anon. They can give you whatever line of BS they want and your appathy would allow you to swallow it. Its not "stupid" to be concerned over who has what Data on you. It is only prudent to pay attention to it reguardless. Stupid, is not paying attention. The very first paragraph tells you that "they may even link to other databases that contain even more detailed information". How exactly does this not effect the general consumer??

Yea stupid huh...........

ramonsterns said:

Why would anyone care? its all anonymous and has no impact what so ever on you... worry about something else, don't be stupid.

Suddenly "News: Humans now capable of flight if naked".

Welp, the news says so, you better go try it out since they're probably not lying to you or anything.

Scshadow said:

Suddenly "News: Humans now capable of flight if naked".

Welp, the news says so, you better go try it out since they're probably not lying to you or anything.

I'd try that merely for wishful thinking, not because I'd think it would work.

Pan Wah said:

Suddenly "News: Humans now capable of flight if naked".

Welp, the news says so, you better go try it out since they're probably not lying to you or anything.

I'm pretty sure that isn't true, even if some humans could fly, it's hard to see a causal relationship between flight and nudity, as your alleged news report suggests?

Guest said:

Sorry, but a class action is not allowed anymore. You can thank the American justice system for that.

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

Why would anyone care? its all anonymous and has no impact what so ever on you... worry about something else, don't be stupid.

It is a little ridiculous, but if they are going to make a profit off of my information, I wouldn't be too upset if they were made to give us a discount or something for agreeing to let them do that.

jackal2687 said:

I tried to fly, do I have to oil up first? Do I do this is public?!?! I am trying so hard and my wife is telling me to stop but I really want to fly!

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