back to article Verizon users must 'opt in' for privacy

US operator Verizon Wireless is to log, and sell, customers' browsing and location history, unless the customers specifically opt out of being tracked at every turn. Only anonymised data will be sold, according to an email sent out to customers and an update of the telco's privacy policy, but internally Verizon will use …


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  1. Pseu Donyme

    The concept of privacy is remarkably different in the US vs. the EU.

    1. Al Jones

      Yes, it sometimes seems that Americans only consider it an invasion of privacy if the Government is responsible.

  2. Captain Underpants
    Thumb Down

    I find it continually hilarious that companies pushing this stuff think end users give a rat's ass about the relevance of advertising where internet access is concerned. My experience of it is that either advertising is intrusive and annoying, or it's blocked.

    An annoying ad for a product or service that may be of relevance to me is still going to at best tell me what company *not* to go with when I'm next looking for that product or service, because if shitty pop up ads are the best marketing they can manage they must be pretty crap.

    The only exception to this rule I've found have been adverts for webcomics served by project wonderful, but that's a sufficiently niche service that it's very much an exception.


    'Opt in' for privacy?!

    This is copyright theft and wiretapping; stealing the content of a private/confidential communication and selling it.

    Where is the consent from the other party to the communication? The owner of the content?

    How on earth is this legal in the US? Its certainly illegal in the UK/EU.

    1. Eguro

      Class Action?

      So this ends in a class action lawsuit and the collapse of Verizon?

      1. Ohb1knewbie

        Re: Class Action

        Ummm, No. Sorry, the Supremes have ruled that companies can legally include binding arbitration clauses in contracts for employment or services that bar employees/customers from filing class action lawsuits. Remember, corporations are not only people they're the better class of people.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Notice the "it's for your own good" wording

    Rampant corporatism is a major export product from crosspondia, as is jaded cynicism about same. Now before the hippie commie accusations start flying, let me assert that I'm not out to advocate any ideology of any kind here, including friedman capitalism. I do want to note that according to another dead guy* corporations exist to bundle resources taken from society and have the result exceed the sum of the parts, creating wealth. Whether imposing preconditions (such as here assuming consent on sidestream data gathering) that have no intrinsic relation to the delivery of the service that is the core business of the enterprise (they do style themselves a telco, wasn't it?) is in any way or form reasonable is probably one of those ethical questions that evidently the corporate governance of this company conveniently forgets to deal with.

    In other words, what are they smoking?

    * who is left as an excercise.

  5. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    "Only anonymised data will be sold"

    How long before anonymised is no longer good enough?

    1. Eddy Ito


      Anonymised when translated from bull shit to English means they don't sort your personal information before selling it.

    2. Ohb1knewbie

      Anonymous Data Fails

      Re: Anonymous Data Fails

      Gender, date of birth, and postal code is all that is needed to un-anonymize data.

      “Using public anonymous data from the 1990 census, Latanya Sweeney found that 87 percent of the population in the United States, 216 million of 248 million, could likely be uniquely identified by their five-digit ZIP code, combined with their gender and date of birth.”

  6. Harry

    "legislators stand ready to knock them back at the first sign of customer backlash."

    I truly wish that were the case.

    In practice, all that the legislators will do is to mumble quietly below their breath in a manner which makes the customers *think* the legislators are trying to protect them. Meanwhile, the laws they pass will be watered down to ensure that businesses are substantially free to ignore their customers privacy.

    The most they will do is to insist on giving customers a "choice". Which the suppliers will interpret as meaning "If you don't like it, buy from somewhere else".

    A "choice" is no help whatsoever in a business where there are a limited number of suppliers and all of them have the attitude "If you don't like it, buy from somewhere else".

    The laws need to make it cast iron clear that privacy is a legal right *and* give the supplier a universal service obligation, such that they *cannot* refuse to supply those who choose to opt out and cannot enforce their wishes by charging extra or providing a lesser service.

  7. Oninoshiko


    Fuck privacy, if i read this right, they are altering the content of my website.

    When I send packets, I expect them to arrive, unaltered. when I receive packets, I expect them to be the packets which where sent, unaltered. This is a MITTM attack, and they need sued over this.


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Verizon

    Thankyou for your recent communication regarding my privacy. I think this is an excellent idea and have decided to emulate your lead in my monthly payments to you.

    You will receive payment from me whether you sell my data or not but, under the payment programme, payment may be more relevant to you if you do not sell my data. Not selling my data will generally result in you receiving money. Selling my data will result in less relevant payment items such as small stones, pieces of orange peel and randomly sized conkers.

    I trust you will see the value in this offering and opt in to receiving money.

    1. Kit-Fox

      oooooo, I so wish someone would actually do that.

      Would be fun to see the company PR flacks trying to justify their side of it when they make a kerfuffle about not getting 'money'

  9. K. Adams

    It's not Verizon anymore...

    ... It's "Phorizon."

  10. maclovinz


    That is all.

  11. Captain Save-a-ho

    Hardly can believe it

    but they've managed to make AT&T look reasonable...unfuckingbelievable

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Opt Out Site Requested that I Disable Popup Blocker, Filtering and Firewalls

    I went to the opt out site using the link in the article and got the following message:

    <message begin>

    The problems you are experiencing are most likely the result of Web filtering software, firewalls, popup blockers or ad blocking software.

    You may resolve this issue by visiting your browser's website and searching for instructions on temporarily disabling Web filtering software, firewalls, popup blockers, and/or ad blocking software. You may also use another computer.

    For Internet Explorer

    For Firefox

    For Safari


    These actions may increase your security risk. Your computer or your network may be more vulnerable to attack by malicious users or by malicious software such as viruses. We recommend that you address any concerns with your browser's support team.

    <message end>

    I Was thinking of breaking my contract. I was forced to change my phone from a Palm 550 a few months back. The Palm Finally died. Got a spanking shiny HTC Thunderbolt 4G. On the typical day the TB drops more call than the Palm dropped for the 5 or so years I used it. In fact I cant remember the Palm ever dropping a call.

    Dont want to start complaining about battery life. If you have the phone in your pocket and it starts feeling warm. Hard boot it or it will die in about 30 minutes regardless of charge. Keep a charger in the car, one at work, one in the home office and one anywhere you spend mare than an hour or so a day because the phone just dies when you need it most.

    Ok I need a phone that works as a phone all the time, Not just a shiny pretty thing. That include using it outside during the day. Whenever I stand outside in the sun and need to make a call I should be able to see whats on the screen. With this phone even if you shade the screen with your hand you will see nothing.

    This shiny pretty thing has to go.

    This is the final straw. As soon as I can Verizon and this phone is gone.

  13. Mr Young

    Opt in, Opt Out, Shake it all about!

    What if the whole of the interwebs was encrypted one day - all this nonsense just wouldn't matter anymore?

    Maybe not - but if they use MY information for profit I WILL be expecting a cheque in the post at the very least!

  14. James O'Brien


    Well this is certainly interesting. Not too worried about this myself seeing as I have sprint. Though it does reinforce mychoice that Verizon would be the wrong choice and ATT just sucks from my previous dealings with them.

    Had to link this a a friend who loves Verizon even though they cap his data usage at ~20Gb a month. He still thinks they are awesome even though I'm at 98Gb so far on sprint this month and nary a problem. Can't wait to see what he has to say.

    For those on Verizon I'm sorry.

  15. Eddy Ito

    Dear FCC

    This is why we can't allow @&T to guzzle T-mob and perhaps breaking Verizon up wouldn't be a bad idea either.

  16. mdpeters67
    Big Brother

    We are the 99%

    I read the news today "US operator Verizon Wireless is to log, and sell, customers' browsing and location history, unless the customers specifically opt out of being tracked at every turn." The practice of "opting in for security and privacy" is offensive on many levels. First, my paid service provider should protect me across the board with "security and privacy by default" practices. Verizon is essentially "wire-tapping" or eavesdropping on me without a warrant or my permission is not acceptable. I pay a hefty premium for smartphone services and the idea of getting advertisements shafted to me is not acceptable. I pay a hefty premium for smartphone services and the idea of being profiled and tracked is not acceptable. There are applications on my purchased hardware that again, I pay a hefty premium for that cannot be uninstalled and also are spying on my is not acceptable. Yes I oped out of the bad practices I am aware of, but I suspect there are other facets of my service I am not. This would make a reasonable class action I think and the biggest hurdle might be how to quantify damages. In the event that Verizon of any of these aggregation organizations get breached, there will certainly be opportunities there. My suggestion to Verizon was to consider putting the consumer first rather than corporate greed. It is the customer after all who gave Verizon profit and those folks are letting it get to their corporate heads.

    1. Mr Young
      Thumb Up


      Class rant - I even grinned a little

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