Verizon Fined Over...a Cookie?

Posted: Mar 8 2016, 3:56pm CST | by , in News | Latest Business News


Verizon Fined Over...a Cookie?
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Verizon Wireless will have to pay a $1.35 million fine over the use of "supercookie" technology that follows what the phone customers do on the internet without their permissions. From now on, Verizon will have to get an explicit "yes" from customers for certain kinds of tracking.

The supercookies are nearly impossible to block, even if you know what you are doing. Verizon then uses them to deliver ads to your cellphone. The company has been trying to expand its advertising and media business since they bought AOL for its digital ad technology in 2015, but it didn't work out this time.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Monday that it found that Verizon started using these supercookies for customers all that way back in December 2012, but didn't disclose the program to anyone outside of the company until October 2014. Verizon waited even furhter - until March 2015 - to update the privacy policy to disclose the trackers, and to give people a way to opt out.

"Consumers care about privacy and should have a say in how their personal information is used, especially when it comes to who knows what they're doing online," FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said in a press release.

Now consumers must opt in to let Verizon share any data with a third party. However, for data-collection and sharing within Verizon, the company can choose to have customers either opt in or automatically do it and give consumers the option to stop it, a less stringent requirement.

The company is changing other practices that people considered invasive as well, something the FCC recognized.

Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation said the settlement was an "unqualified win" for consumers. "Today's order will mean that other companies contemplating similar involuntary tracking will think twice before proceeding without explicit consumer consent," he wrote in an email.

For its part, Verizon said it changed its policy to ensure that customers are more informed.

"Verizon gives customers choices about how we use their data," Richard Young, a spokesman for Verizon, told CNET. "We work hard to provide customers with clear, complete information to help them make decisions about our services."

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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