Verizon Wireless to expose customers’ browsing to advertisers

April 26, 2014 – 9:10 AM

As far as corporate notices go, they don’t get much creepier than this recent alert from US telco Verizon Wireless.

The company says it’s “enhancing” its Relevant Mobile Advertising program, which it uses to collect data on customers’ online habits so that marketers can pitch stuff at them with greater precision.

“In addition to the customer information that’s currently part of the program, we will soon use an anonymous, unique identifier we create when you register on our websites,” Verizon Wireless is telling customers.

“This identifier may allow an advertiser to use information they have about your visits to websites from your desktop computer to deliver marketing messages to mobile devices on our network,” it says.

The company will then share that additional data with marketers.

Joanne Schwartz, 65, of Tustin, California, received the Verizon Wireless notice last week.

“Verizon makes it seem like they are doing us a great favour,” she told me. But what the company is really doing, she said, is collecting data on her whole family’s computer usage and sharing it with its business partners.

Schwartz’s verdict: “Horrible.”

Even worse, Verizon is enrolling customers in the “enhanced” program by automatically downloading software onto their computers, which customers may not even know is happening.


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