Verizon customers and privacy advocates have been fighting for the company to stop using ‘supercookies’ which track users online behavior while using cellular data on their mobile device. Until now though, the outcry seemed for not, as Verizon remained constant with the program.
Supercookies were developed by Verizon, and ultimately, attached a UIDH number to each individual device. The information that was gathered would then be used for targeted ads. These targeted ads would then be modified as needed depending on the information that was pulled from the supercookies and the Unique Identifier Header.
A Verizon spokeswoman said in a statement that “Verizon takes customer privacy seriously, and it is a central consideration as we develop new products and services.” She then went on to point out that “We have begun working to expand the opt-out to include the identifier referred to as the UIDH, and expect that to be available soon.”
However, that promise though, as well as the promise that the Verizon spokeswoman made – the company isn’t entirely trusted when it comes to keeping customers information safe. Especially when their customers feel as though they’re being watched, or even worse – their personal information is being compromised and sold to third-parties. The spokeswoman went on to note that “As a reminder, Verizon never shares customer information with third parties as part of our advertising programs.”
This is where the big problem lies with companies like Verizon or AT&T, who similarly received a lot of negative media attention for running a test of this program. At the end of the day, both of these programs are advertising programs that allow companies like Verizon and AT&T profit off of the tailored information that they can collect from the user. While this is the first opportunity that users have had to “turn off” this type of feature – the data is already there. At least a large portion of it.
This is a program that has been running for several years now, and Verizon hasn’t had any issue with the privacy advocates until recently.
Where the company will go with this advertising platform moving forward is unclear. However, it is clear that change is going to be necessary if the company wants to continue working out this type of agreement. Just like AT&T this past fall, customers do not like their information being compromised. It’s unclear right now what steps users will have to take to have their supercookies shut down on their mobile devices.