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May 2, 2014

Posted by: Kevin Homer


Verizon Wireless Tracking Online Browsing Patterns - And Taking it Too Far

Online ad targting is a practice that Internet giants such as Google and Yahoo has been doing for years. For the most part, your information is kept anonymous, but they know your browsing habits and show online ads that are relevant to you. Online marketers are also able to retarget ads, which is why you not only see ads relevant to your browsing history, but often see ads for the actual websites you previously visited but did not complete what they consider a goal conversion (such as buying a product). Anyway, the Internet gods see your browing history, try to make your ad experience more revelent, and you're included in a greater pool of data that is then sold to marketing companies who can use these overall browsing habits to their advantage. We're all aware of it, and it typically doesn't affect us much.


Verizon Wireless has recently announced that they're taking it a step further. Going forward, when you access their My Verizon portal on your computer, it will install a tracker (or cookie) on your computer without warning, which will then track your browsing habits and offer a "benefit" of relevant mobile ads on your mobile device. And, similar to the model we're used to, they will be selling that data to marketers. The data will be anonymous, which Verizon considers "everything you've done on the internet, plus your phone number."


Yes, that's right. Your phone number will be included in the "anonymous" data dump. 


Here's how you can opt out:

     - Log into your My Verizon account.

     - Go to Manage My Account on the left hand side of the page.

     - Select Manage Privacy Settings

     - On that page, scroll down until you see "Relevant Mobile Advertising." Select opt-out.

     - You should receive a confirmation that you have opted out successfully.


We expect there to be an update of the Verizon Wireless policy as this new about phone numbers included in their anonymous data dump continues to be publicized. We will update the article accordingly if they to in fact clarify or change their policy. 


Some of the information for this post was found on The Wire.

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