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Verizon is Collecting and Selling Your Data, You Can Still Opt Out if You’d Like

Over the last two days, Verizon has come under fire over a new service the carrier is offering to third party data collectors. In short, Verizon is scooping up generic information on their customers such as which devices they own, what webpages they browse, which social media accounts they activate, GPS locations, the customer’s age, and even more intimate details such as if the customer owns a pet. Big Red takes this data and then sells it, without a name tied to the bundle, but with a label like, “sports enthusiast, frequent diner or pet owner.” 

Some view this program, called Precision Market Insights, as being on the verge of illegal and violating the Wiretap Act. Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was interviewed briefly by CNET, who submitted the following statement on Verizon’s PMI program:

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… 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.

Verizon, who ensures that the customer’s privacy is their top priority, issued the following statement to place customer’s worries to rest:

Verizon is committed to customer privacy and takes the issue seriously. The Precision program complies with the law and protects the privacy of our customers. The reports available through the program will not disclose the content of specific customer communications because each report will contain aggregate data from a large number of customers to protect privacy. Customers who do not want their data used as part of the program can opt-out at any time.

By allowing people to voluntarily opt-out, Verizon may have found somewhat of a loophole in terms of the legality of the service. But then again, as Declan pointed out over at CNET, what business does Verizon have selling our information when they’re already getting $80+ a month from us for using their service. As this story progresses, we’ll keep you updated.

To opt yourself out of this data collection program, you can do so here.

Via: CNET | Consumerist

  • I’m still with Verizon because they have the best coverage in NY and they agreed to keep my grandfathered unlimited plan.

    This new selling private usage is completely unacceptable to me. I’m happy they are giving the option to opt out, because otherwise I would jump ship.

  • spickle

    thanx for this. +1

  • Rick

    just opted out. Thanks for the link. slim balls!

  • Wyveryx

    Just did this and just and FYI, I did opt out awhile back, but if you add a line you have to do it per line and make sure the one added is also removed.

    Edit: and make sure to click save for each section!

  • Kheir Francis

    its already bad enough that we overpay, but now our info is being shared. verizon just keeps suprising me left and right, and the only reason why they can get away with its the best mobile service right now

  • MttFrog13

    Honestly, who cares? It’s aggregate data. As long as they’re not selling info specific to just myself, like my phone number, email, and other specific identifying info I couldn’t care less. Some one give me one example of how them selling aggregate data will affect us? This is the same type of data that facebook sells. As long as I’m not getting spam email, telemarketing phone calls, or there isn’t anything released that will increase the chance of identity theft, then I don’t care. Yeah yeah yeah, facebook is a free service where as we are paying for Verizon’s service, but unless you are using a client-owned service, or something like a credit union, these businesses have shareholders who will demand profits. This is American and just the way business works.

  • Am I missing something here? If none of the info they peddle can be traced back to me, why should I be outraged? How does this inconvenience me?
    It would be nice to see a little of that profit come back though in the form of a discount or something for those who don’t opt out, but that definitely ain’t happening.

  • Taylor Levesque

    Just opted out. Thanks guys.

  • Live2Rootz

    As if I need ANOTHER reason to take my happy ass off of Verizon’s network…as soon as the Optimus G drops I’m outta here

  • gregba

    Does this affect how well google now works?

  • You are going to get ads either way. Would you rather have ads about stuff you are interested in, or see ads about crap that’s completely irrelevant?

  • Plerisei

    I was hoping this would allow for ETF without paying, lol

  • Stock Holder

    Whatever keeps the money coming in!

  • cherry919

    Thanks for the heads up Kellen.

  • George264

    Another reason to go unlocked on T-Mo. WHY VERIZON? I USED TO LIKE YOU GUYS. Great coverage, best Android upgrades(back in the day), and best CS. Now, slight edge coverage, worst Android upgrades, and ok CS. T-mo, 80$ unlimited, unlocked phone support, and decent coverage. Even the hated AT&T is getting better than Verizon. Shame on them.

  • Croq

    Thanks for the info, I opted out.

  • tn5555

    I tried opting out and it said “unable at this time to opt out”

  • shane cone

    EFF you Verizon I’m sick of all your crap. Your data speeds don’t make up for me reading new stories once a week about the crap your doing to your customers.I can’t believe you all continue to deal with it. They have some of the worst business practices and treat the people who pay their bills like crap. If Hitler owned a cell phone company that was slightly better than the competition and cost more too would you all switch to it I mean come on

  • Barbacoa

    In other news, I work for a verizon retailer and they WONT let me opt out…

  • I honestly don’t know why this is coming up now. I was able to opt out over a year and a half ago and did so without complaining. All it takes is logging on to your Verizon account, and actually looking around the site, not just logging on to pay your bill. Always ALWAYS look at privacy and security settings when you register for ANY website.

  • StoneColdCarl

    If I don’t, shouldn’t they pay me for selling data about me?

  • Philip A. Kaiser

    Maybe they should use the data to see how many of their customers are commonly exploring cell phone plans on their competitors websites. You think they would get the picture with that?

  • Jwhap

    Thanks Droid-Life for helping us with tips like this!

  • fauxshizzl

    I just made my tin foil hat two layers thick instead of one. Good luck Verizon!

  • lye

    I just want there to be a good provider. I left verizon in a fit to att and then left att in a fit back to verizon. I think I’m gonna go T-Mobile next?!

  • NyReynolds

    Good looking out Tim.

  • Go Prepaid!

  • RW-1

    Oh and BTW, in case it actually works to VZ: It should be an opt-in you MF’s !

  • RW-1

    Yep, meaningless opt out ….

  • RoadsterHD1

    do we check all of them and say not to share data cause there is a few categories

  • bsilver2988

    Anybody know if there’s a way to opt out if you’re part of a small business account? The login for myverizon works differently.

  • LarryD

    We live in a BIG brother world. Do you really think its only Verizon that selling you out? Don’t worry if Verizon quits there still lots of others out there selling your butt.

  • PhillipCun

    They should offer a discount if you opt in. I’m getting an error trying to opt out… EVIL!

  • NotTheTodd

    To everyone who doesn’t realize – they’re now sharing even more information than before. I was already opted out of two of them, but now they’re sharing your usage information (Customer Proprietary Network Information).

    I opted out (again) and am closer than ever to cancelling my service (once my contract is up cuz I’m not giving them several hundred dollars). Bastards

  • darktoy

    When I switched over to Verizon a month ago from Sprint these options were one of the first items I opted out of. It wasn’t hard for me although I do like to look around my entire service profile. Always read the fine print, that’s the best advice anyone can give.

  • Gordon

    I guess Verizon is starting to take a page out of Facebook and Mark Fuckerberg. I hope Google makes their own carrier and have all these greedy bastards like Verizon and at&t licking their boots.

    • Big_EZ

      Google collects your data as well, they would just charge you less because of it.

    • Facebook is free. Or are you referring to the people who lost money because they foolishly invested in a company that had basically 0 revenue or products?

  • Liquidretro
  • And they call the NFC in the GNex “insecure”… what a joke.

    • Abgar Musayelyan

      its ok for them to steal your information, not ok for others.

  • are they doing this on business accounts as well? and if so, where can we go to opt out with a business account.

    • Liquidretro

      I just made a post about business accounts.

  • gearmonky

    so besides the standard mob mentalities of ‘stick it to the man’ and ‘my business is my business’, how on earth does this effect any of us negatively? having our information lumped in *anonymously* with that of millions of other users has absolutely zero impact on our privacy.

    tl/dr: besides paranoia, there’s no reason to care.

  • Sven Enterlein

    Can you spell G-R-E-E-D? It’s V-E-R-I-Z-O-N, dummy!

  • Jared

    “There are no services available. A location service must be downloaded on the handset to be listed here” Is that what you guys get?

  • Trueblue711

    How is this any different than that CarrierIQ fiasco that happened a year ago? Verizon was one of the few who did not use CarrierIQ, but I’m wondering what alternative they’ve had installed on their devices.

  • Tom

    This story seems to pop up every once-in-awhile. I remember taking care of this a few years ago. But, the story does bring light to new users of Verizon.

  • Sorry but how is this new? i remember this being a big deal last year or 2 years ago…Unless this is just a reminder

    • Caleb Martin

      Yeah, this is old news. Verizon even sent out a notification about it when it started and told you how to opt-out.

    • me

      There was also a Droid Life article about it too. I guess Verizon is getting more bad press about this again so another article was made.

  • i honestly don’t see what they’re doing wrong… i got an email a long time ago saying that this was going to happen and that you can opt out before they even start doing it. I think this problem arose when ignorance became observance.

    But, they’re a corporation and their main objective is to make money. Not helping you (I’m not a part of VZW anymore) little guys out. And they’re going to keep doing it. Because you keep bending over for them. I got out of it, broke my contract (which costed ~$1100) and went straight to prepaid. Anywhere you can get VZW, you can get AT&T. Which is what Straight Talk uses (if you use the sim program). Money talks. If enough of us leave them, they’ll have to get their act together.

    • marcusmaximus04

      I’m not sure ATT is much better…

      • no i’m sorry…
        AT&T is who Straight Talk uses. That was my point about AT&T.

  • I went to the link Manage Location Privacy Settings and it said “There are no services available. A location service must be downloaded on the handset to be listed here”. I have the galaxy nexus. Can anyone elaborate?

    • Calvin Williams

      maybe your rom prevents it?

    • jeesung

      me too.

      i have “VZW Location Services” unchecked. maybe that is needed for this.

    • me

      Maybe it’s specifically for Verizon location services like VZ Navigator, child tracking and other Verizon specific services that can be added to your account.

    • You need to log in under the main account for the options to show up. Also make sure you save them one by one or else it will not change.

  • duoexo

    So they know of all the porn i look at on their network? umm k.

    • JoshGroff

      And the youtube videos.

  • NorCalDroid

    Thank you for posting this. Hopefully by me opting out has stopped the data mining. Well at least I hope.

  • JetBlue

    If only other carriers had as good coverage as Big Red does in my area otherwise I would switch so I guess I have to deal with their high prices and selling our personal info.

  • Anon

    Tahnk you for what I consider a public service announcement. If they want my information, they can pay ME for the privilege of sharing it, or ask that I opt in, not out.

    Turned off for two phones. To others, note there are three spots to click opt out, not one, which you might not see without scrolling on a smartphone screen. Each one needs to be saved individually.

  • Buy This

    I was told that everytime you clear browser history (specifically cookies) that you have to opt out again or it’s like you never did it in the first place. Can anyone confirm

    • Greg

      I don’t think it has anything to do with your browser. You might be thinking of something else. Verizon’s is controlled from your My Verizon account settings

    • Good ol’ JS

      That would be a negative. You opt out per line. Your browser settings will not play into this. Opt out and contact your local congress-person or state senator. Blast Verizon over this. It’s the only way they’ll learn just like everyone else did when CarrierIQ was found running on phones.

    • moelsen8

      negative. you’re opted out. i’ve looked from different computers and different browsers, and i’ve been opted out since this originally went into place whenever the heck it was way back when. you’re fine. it’d be pretty sh*tty of them to do something like that.. it’s kind of like a digital signature.

  • Greg

    I remember an article or a letter from VZW about this a while ago (last year I think) and I opted out then, when they added that feature/ability! Verizon should give a discount on customers bills in exchange for their info. Also funny how you are always opted in by default.

    • Raven

      I couldn’t strongly recall if I had opted out of this already or not as it has been a long time ago, but I checked and apparently I have already opted out, so that is good. At least they have kept my preference setting for quite some time, if it actually has any affect.

  • Bewara2009

    Verizon do yourself a favor and the rest stop with this nonsense already.

  • bogy25


  • AJ Myrick

    Again? This is the fundamental problem with corporate America. Not only did they charge us absurd prices for text messaging rates back in the day (especially for a service that was built into cellular technology to begin with), now they’re pulling creeper, almost stalker status like moves.

  • So, they’re nickel-and-diming their customers AND selling customer data to increase their profits at the same time? Verizon Wireless truly is an evil corporation.

    • MttFrog13

      OMG a business that wants profits?! How evil!!!

      None of the info that verizon is selling will identify us so that means no telemarketing, junk mail, and no increased risk of identity theft. So why should we care? They have the largest and fastest 4g network so I’m happy with that. Businesses have shareholders, and shareholders demand profits, it’s just the way business works.

      • really, please gtfo

        this is borderline illegal and you are defending it

        not to mention of shady it is.

        please, gtfo

        • michael arazan

          These are the two numbers needed to call to opt out from verizon’s website, need to call both of them. 1-800-333-9956 & 1-866-211-0874

          you’ll need to know the security pin# to your account, and you can select all devices on your account to opt out of the collection of info.

        • FknTwizted

          hence borderline, yet if you don’t like it opt out problem solved. I opted out a long time ago… i agree with you to the fact i’m not a big fan of it but….

      • Rob

        There are so many other ways for a company to make money by selling information that for most places (governmental offices, hospitals, etc) is considered confidential.

      • D0Z3R

        Would it bother you if a nude picture of your mother was posted on the internet BUT her face was blurred out? and there was nothing in the background to identify the house or her… Its an invasion of privacy. You’re really gonna defend verizon? Verizon never discussed this with me and I shouldn’t have to read through 10 pages of fine print to find out (if it’s even there). Like Shaunwin said, how do I know they’re gonna stop once I opt out?

        • MttFrog13

          good point except that these aren’t nude pics of my mother put online for perverts to look at. This is a collection of data about a group used for marketing. Absolutely no worse than what google or facebook do.

          • D0Z3R

            Look at http://donttrack.us/ its shows you why tracking by sites like google or companies like verizon is bad.

  • Shaunwin

    Once you opt out, who is going to check they have stop collecting and selling your information. I can see opting out and nothing happens, it’s VZW after all.

    • florious80

      I’ve questioned that as well. I think they could still do it, they just run the risk of someone finding out, and then sue them to stop. Until it is discovered, VZW would continue its evil ways. Most company would avoid it though since the penalty could be severe. They can still do this on unsuspecting customers, who have not opted out.

    • apingaut

      Ya I feel as if I’ve “Opted out” before and now they just changed the program so that Opt-out wasn’t valid anymore.

      • @72d3b3fbae610438241b94464bc9479b:disqus i remember this being a big deal last year or 2 years ago…Unless this is just a reminder..My mothers neighbour is working part time and averaging $9O00 a month. I’m a single mum and just got my first paycheck for $6546! I still can’t believe it. I tried it out cause I got really desperate and now I couldn’t be happier. Heres what I do,..Goo.gl/RYvck

      • trumpet444

        sounds like facebook

      • sonicyoof

        Unfortunately, you opted-out of opting-out.

  • radiohead14

    any way we can use this to get out of our contracts early? i’m really getting tired of verizon quickly becoming the new at&t. i’m thinking of going to t-mobile, if i could.

    • Good ol’ JS

      No. They didn’t violate the TOS or drastically change your service. If you want out, pay the ETF, in some cases you’ll still wind up saving money.

  • palomosan

    I think the link is wrong, also I never sign in to any of Verizon services like backup, GPS, I have enough with Google keeping track of my location.

    • moelsen8

      the link is fine. you also don’t have to be signed in to anything to have them track you. they’re gathering all of this info just by you using their service unless you opt out.

      • Dan

        The opt-out webpage says that you have nothing to opt out of if you do not have a Verizon location service installed on your phone. I have a custom ROM installed on my Nexus without any of the Verizon crapware, but I wonder if they still collect this information.

        • moelsen8

          good question. i’d imagine there’s all sorts of data they can determine solely based on your phone signal, usage, and the data passing through alone. they can certainly approximate your location.

  • KB26

    Verizon is committed to customer privacy and takes the issue seriously.
    Nope, unfortunately that’s just all bullcrap and if they really did take it seriously, they wouldn’t be as greedy as to do this.

    • sk3litor

      Exactly. Anyone who starts a defense with “compliant with the law” knows what they’re doing is ethically wrong but as long as its legal there’s nothing anyone can do about it