Feeds

Verizon users must 'opt in' for privacy

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

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.