Verizon announced recently that consumers finally have a way to opt out its supercookie.
The supercookies from Verizon have been tracking everything you do on your Verizon phone. The practice allows the phone provider the ability to build a comprehensive file on a consumer, and then sell that file to marketers. Marketers use that information to target specific ads to you based on the information in your supercookie file.
AT&T employed that practice but received a mountain of criticism, and agreed to quit their program. Verizon has also felt the wrath of consumers and journalists concerned about privacy, and will now provide two ways for consumers to opt out of the program:
1. Verizon customers may visit Vzw.com/myprivacy and log into their accounts. Scroll down to “Relevant Mobile Advertising.” Then click the button below “No, I don’t want to participate in Relevant Mobile Advertising” for each line on their account. Finally, they must click the red “Save Changes” button.
2. Consumers may also call 866-211-0874 to opt out.
The practice of using supercookies has caught the attention of some members of Congress. A group of Senators has contacted the head of both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission about the practice.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Democratic Senators Bill Nelson (Florida), Edward Markey (Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) expressed concern over the use of supercookies.
“As we consider whether legislation may be necessary to fully protect consumers from the use of these supercookies, we also believe the FCC should use its full existing statutory authority to examine these practices.”
The FCC apparently was already investigating the practice, as Wheeler responded saying, “We are looking specifically into carriers’ injection of header information and the collection and use of information about their subscribers’ Internet activity. As you suggest, we will be considering the extent to which our rules and policies relating to consumer privacy, data security and transparency may be implicated.”
Senator Nelson was quoted later as saying “This whole supercookie business raises the specter of corporations being able to peek into the habits of Americans without their knowledge or consent. That’s why I think we need to get to the bottom of this and perhaps adopt new legislation.”