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Verizon now tracks and shares Web surfing, location, app usage

October 13, 2011 |  9:18 am

Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless has made a change in its privacy policy that clears the nation's largest wireless carrier to track its subscribers' Web browsing, location and app usage habits.

The change in Verizon's privacy policy covers all customers of the company by default, automatically opting-in subscribers, though they can opt out of this if they want.

So why would Verizon want to track its customers' Web surfing, location, app usage and other data-consuming behaviors? Verizon said in a statement announcing the privacy change on their website that the data will help them make "mobile ads you see more relevant."

The policy change also clears Verizon to share the Web browsing data to produce "certain business and marketing reports" and then share that information with "other companies to create business and marketing reports."

Verizon also said that all the data shared with outside companies will be anonymized and that Verizon "will not share outside of Verizon any information that identifies you personally."

The specific types of information Verizon will now track and share with outside companies, as listed by Verizon on its website is made up of:

Mobile Usage Information:

  • Addresses of websites you visit when using our wireless service. These data strings (or URLs) may include search terms you have used
  • Location of your device ("Location Information")
  • App and device feature usage
Consumer Information:
  • Information about your use of Verizon products and services (such as data and calling features, device type, and amount of use)
  • Demographic and interest categories provided to us by other companies, such as gender, age range, sports fan, frequent diner, or pet owner ("Demographics")

For those who want to opt out of Verizon's new information sharing practices, the carrier said its subscribers can do by filling out a form available at www.vzw.com/myprivacy or by calling 1-866-211-0874.

While the policy changes from Verizon might make some of its users feel uneasy or maybe even a bit creeped out, it's worth nothing that every carrier stores these types of data, though they all have different approaches to how they do or don't use them.

ALSO:

Privacy group asks FTC for Facebook inquiry

Verizon moves over to 'usage based' data plans

Personal log-on info often leaks to advertisers, researcher finds

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Verizon logo is seen at a Verizon Wireless in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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