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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

  • http://www.facebook.com/monsey11 Moses Meisner

    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.

  • http://twitter.com/marker1015 MrSix

    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?

  • http://twitter.com/Chasemanhattan3 Chase Chick

    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?