Privacy advocates, rejoice! Verizon Wireless has now made it possible for customers to opt out of the company’s controversial targeted advertising program that used unique identifiers to track subscriber web surfing habits.
Verizon came under fire late last year after it was discovered that the carrier had been injecting a string of about 50 characters called a Unique Identifier Header (UIDH) into its customers’ Internet traffic. The practice, which went on for at least a couple of years, allowed Verizon to build detailed profiles of customers that helped serve ads that might interest them.
Customers were able to opt out of Verizon’s Relevant Mobile Advertising program but this didn’t stop the UIDH injection. In January, Verizon promised a true solution was in the works which is now live.
To opt out, Verizon customers will need to sign into their My Verizon account and navigate to “Manage Privacy Settings” under the “Manage My Account” section. From there, you will be able to opt out of the Relevant Mobile Advertising program which should in turn stop the UIDH injection.
To verify it worked, you can visit this website created by Kenneth White (just make sure Wi-Fi is off before doing so). White was one of the original security researchers that discovered the tracking method according to MacRumors.
Advertising is the lifeblood of the Internet and many technology companies. By being able to better target users with relevant ads, companies are able to command top dollar from advertisers. Sometimes, as in Verizon's case, they simply cross the line.