Verizon will use its mobile supercookies to share users' browsing habits with AOL's ad network

By midian182 ยท 7 replies
Oct 7, 2015
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  1. Verizon has updated its privacy policy to state that it now shares users’ unique information gathered by its ‘supercookie’ identifier, such as cellphone use and browsing habits, with the AOL Advertising Network in order to send out ads that are more personalized and targeted to a specific audience.

    The update means that AOL’s ad network, which is on 40 percent of websites, will be able to target ads at visitors using information from Verizon’s database as well as its own. Verizon’s privacy notice states that the targeting criteria includes visitors’ address, email address, age range, gender, interests, location, mobile web browsing history and app usage. It can also track some non-mobile web browsing to sites carrying AOL ads.

    "These programs use online and device identifiers known as ‘Unique Identifier Header.’ We will use these identifiers to help make our advertising programs better by, for example: linking advertising program information between Verizon and AOLs; connecting web and app browsing activity; and helping to distinguish the user's various devices," explains Verizon on its site.

    Not only does this tracking method require users to opt out if they want no part of it, but it also sends information unencrypted, meaning that it can be easily intercepted by outside sources.

    Verizon, which bought AOL earlier this year, claimed it will share the identifier with “a very limited number of other partners and they will only be able to use it for Verizon and AOL purposes,” said Karen Zacharia, chief privacy officer at Verizon.

    Users are able opt out of Verizon’s Unique Identifier Header system, which is enabled by default, by logging into their accounts or contacting the company directly. Verizon warned users that clearing cookies or browsing histories on their devices is not an effective way to remove themselves from the advertising programs.

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  2. Woooooooow!
    I don't think so! how do I disable this "feature"? If I can't looks like I won't be using my phone for any browsing.
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  3. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    I use Vodafone which is Verizon by another name, I wonder if they pull the same stunts... Anyway I'm not overly concerned, I very seldom use my phone to browse the web and when I have I'm very fastidious about cleaning browsing data and cookies. I tend to do the same with my desktop, I run ccleaner every evening to sign out of everything and clear cache junk, I also delete browsing history on Google. Not that I'm paranoid or trying to hide anything, it's just habit. I'm a bad sufferer of OCD and it spills over to just about everything I do.
  4. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    Settings --> Privacy --> Advertising --> Limit Ad Tracking

    This opts out of Apple's tracker, but I don't know that it disables Verizon's.

    Edit: Instructions for Verizon here
    Julio Franco likes this.
  5. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 565   +179

    If I remember the articles that came out when the Verizon data gathering was revealed it's not really something you can disable.
  6. TechnoSapien

    TechnoSapien TS Member

    Verizon routinely shares user info with other companies, and not just browsing preferences, but the apps you install, the locations you visit (when GPS is active), et. al. You can "opt out" of some of these (the ones we know about) using their mobile app: Verizon Mobile -> Profile -> Manage Privacy Settings. Also check out their "Verizon Selects Preferences" settings.
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,122   +982

    Original Source Article is
  8. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,122   +982

    BTW: There are other super cookies too:

    LSO: Local Shared Objects. see this to control or delete LSOs

    Also, Users may also delete local shared objects either manually or using third-party software. For instance, BetterPrivacy,[16] a Firefox add-on, or CCleaner, a standalone computer program for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, allow users to delete local shared objects on demand.

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