Verizon Wireless is reportedly altering the web traffic of its customers by inserting a string of 50 letters, characters, and numbers for the past two years, reports Wired. This string is called a Unique Identifier Header (UIDH), a kind of short-term serial number used by advertisers to associate a particular computer on the internet. Critics are now saying that Verizon is abusing its power as the country's biggest wireless carrier and internet service provider.
One of the critics is technologist Jacob Hoffman-Andrews of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He says that Verizon's UIDH is a "perma-cookie" because any web server can read it, thus allowing Verizon to track a user's internet habits. “ISPs are trusted connectors of users and they shouldn’t be modifying our traffic on its way to the Internet,” Hoffman-Andrews adds. Verizon's devious UIDH headers were discovered by a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EFF member, yet to be identified, accidentally spotted the strings on the web traffic from a few Verizon customers. Verizon Wireless has responded to Wired saying that the company isn't using the UIDH to create customer profiles for targeted advertising campaigns. Verizon spokeswoman Debra Lewis said that it cannot be turned off and that customers can opt out from the company's mobile advertising program by logging into their Verizon account.
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