Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Verizon Joins Other U.S. Telecoms in Opting Users Into Data Collection and Tracking

Andrew Paul, Input:

A new program innocuously titled the “Verizon Custom Experience” is sold to users as a way for the company to “personalize our communications with you, give you more relevant product and service recommendations, and develop plans, services and offers that are more appealing to you.” To accomplish this, all a Verizon subscriber needs to do is… allow the company access to all the websites you visit, apps you use, as well as see everyone you happen to call and text.

Well, okay, so that’s a bit misleading. You don’t “need” to allow access — Verizon already default granted it. You can manually go in and change a few settings to remedy the situation, though. Here’s how.

Emma Roth, the Verge:

In April, T-Mobile started automatically enrolling users in a program that shares your data with advertisers unless you manually opt-out from your privacy settings. On AT&T’s privacy center, the company says that it collects web and browsing information, along with the apps you use, and that you can manage these settings from AT&T’s site.

Even though this is a common practice among U.S. internet providers, it still disturbs me that they treat it as an opt-out arrangement. Each user has to get an idea that this program exists in the first place, know what it is called — “Custom Experience” is a weaselly marketing way to avoid saying tracking and profiling — and figure out how to disable it. This is a massive ISP-wide privacy violation that is completely legal, and entirely unethical.