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Verizon's Creepy New Plan

These days it seems that every computer vendor, service provider and Web site spies on us. Verizon apparently doesn't want to be left out of this little party. Recently it disclosed a new policy where it harvests data from wireless customers and then uses it to sell targeted ads.

If you use Verizon like I do, what programs you use and the sites you frequent are all for sale.

This is not an opt-in deal. Rather, you have to tell Verizon you don't want your every move tracked. The good news is the data sold is not directly connected to individuals.

Still, the opt-out policy bugs me. And with more and more of our phones tracking our locations, it is a bit of a privacy double whammy.

The real rub? The notice begins with the following: "Your privacy is an important priority at Verizon Wireless."

Am I being paranoid or is Verizon crossing the line? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 10/19/2011 at 1:18 PM


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Reader Comments:

Fri, Oct 21, 2011

Privacy laws are clearly an area that require government intervention. Imagine a culture where the people who run the government actually put personal interests above corporate interests!

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 James

Thank you for the heads up. I've opted out. This is the same thing I hate about Facebook. The assumption that somehow companies have an inherent right to do as they please with information about our persons without asking and without reasonable notification really irritates me. It's like having a nosy neighbor looking into your house with a telescope and then gossiping about what he sees to the entire neighborhood. Oh, wait -- Google has already done that too.

Thu, Oct 20, 2011

Could you share the instructions for opting out? I haven't seen such a notice from VZW Business yet.

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 CharlieJ SC, USA

Doug, You are dead on. This is creepy! It's not only the edge of a slippery slope, but a full on slip-n-slide for our privacy, buying habits, surfing habits, even location habits being tracked without our permission. I am seriously considering taking my family's five cell phones and moving our business to another company. I never thought Big Brother's name would end up being Verizon.

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 Paul Yorktown VA

Companies should by law request you to join. In this way, you can't complain you did not know. To often we don't know what is going on because companies can get away with doing things that hurt us and then say didn't you read the 30 page document in the little preview window when you checked that you agread to our notification. The responsable thing is to let the customer control as much as posible. Ignorance is a poor excuse, but using the excuse that I (company/business) don't have to ask because you signed a overly long document writen so that only a lawyer could understand it is wrong.

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 SteveW San Diego

Privacy is not an issue if you don't use the product.

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 ibsteve2u Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Don't think my or your opinion matters. The rights of the individual American have been abrogated by a legislative and judicial environment wherein wealth is endowed with more power than is derived from citizenship.

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 Michael Weyant Oxnard, CA

Advertising is never going away, however, if these companies advertised to ME, with information that I was actually interested in, I would be much likelier to buy. I might even enjoy the advertisements. So I am an advocate to these companies collecting information about what I want to watch so they can better understand what I want to buy.

Wed, Oct 19, 2011

Every Company does this to collect habits of their customers. Google does it, Microsoft, and the list goes on and on...

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 Dan Iowa

Was there ever any question? Why would a corporation, (business structure designed to protect owners from any liability for their actions), be concerned about your privacy when they can make money by destroying that privacy? What would be the incentive?

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 Mark Stobbelaar Michigan

As consumers we complain companies don't spend enough energy to understand our needs. If they ask us to fill out a survey to aid in their understanding, then we complain it's not worth my valuable time. As long as the data is not directly attributable to my account then I feel my privacy has not been violated. This data capturing is equivalent to scanner panel data at the grocery check-out line. Get over it.

Wed, Oct 19, 2011

Yes, Verizon has crossed the line. I am a Verizon customer and have been for over 10 yeaers. This is just plain wrong. Most people don't have the time to read all of the documentation that comes to them and won't ever relaize what they are being subjected to. Shame on Verion. As if I want or need more targeted advertising.

Wed, Oct 19, 2011

My privacy is NOT important to Verizon if there is 1 cent involved!

Wed, Oct 19, 2011

Perhaps I would object less if they used the income stream to lower my bill rather than raise their revenue, it is my information they are going to harvst and sell

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