Feeds

Verizon users must 'opt in' for privacy

You are the product, even if you're paying for the service

3 Big data security analytics techniques

US operator Verizon Wireless is to log, and sell, customers' browsing and location history, unless the customers specifically opt out of being tracked at every turn.

Only anonymised data will be sold, according to an email sent out to customers and an update of the telco's privacy policy, but internally Verizon will use profiles of its customers based on the URLs visited, the handset and features they use, as well as their physical location. Personal data will be used for accurate delivery of advertisements, while anonymous statistics will be sold to analysts and other interested parties.

Click for close-up look at the T&Cs...

That means a website that discovers it is receiving significant traffic from Verizon customers (based on the originating IP address) could ask the operator for a breakdown by age, or gender, for a fee. Meanwhile an advertiser could ask Verizon to target customers of a specific demographic, using a specific model of phone, within a specific location, unless the customers have manually opted out of the system.

Profiling customers is something many operators do, but generally with the permission of those customers and in exchange for a bribe of some sort. In the UK, O2 More and Orange Shots both promise exclusive offers and tokens, and the popularity of both services proves customers will exchange privacy for cheap stuff, but Verizon is taking that stage further by assuming consent and failing to offer a bribe.

Customers may decide to opt out, but the operator warns that "You will receive mobile ads whether you participate or not, but under the advertising program, ads may be more relevant to you".

All mobile operators are sitting on mountains of information, in fact the pure volume of data often intimidates operators into shying away from making use of it. Five years ago Malaysian operators were mining call records to identify popular teenagers, to discover who's worth advertising to, in one example of just how far operators could go.

In Europe the operators have moved very cautiously, with opt-in schemes such as O2 More and Orange Shots, as legislators stand ready to knock them back at the first sign of customer backlash.

In the USA privacy hasn't been such a big deal, and Verizon is taking a significant step forwards in assuming consent for targeted advertising and reselling of demographic data, it will be up to the customers to decide if they're prepared to let that happen. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
Google looks to LTE and Wi-Fi to help it lube YouTube tubes
Bandwidth hogger needs tube embiggenment if it's to succeed
Turnbull gave NBN Co NO RULES to plan blackspot upgrades
NBN Co faces huge future Telstra bills and reduces fibre footprint
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
Google eyes business service in latest Fiber trials
Lucky Kansas City buggers to host yet another pilot program
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.