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Verizon sparks anger by going to opt-out user snooping

updated 05:35 pm EDT, Fri October 14, 2011

Tracks sites visited, apps used and location

On Wednesday, Verizon advised its mobile subscribers that it was changing its privacy policy regarding web browsing. The wireless carrier will now collect information on the websites an individual visits, the apps being used and the user's location. It's possible to opt out, but that requires a visit to Verizon's website.

Verizon claims that the company will use the information to "create business and marketing reports," and to customize the mobile ads a subscriber receives to make them "more relevant." Verizon adds that none of the information collected or shared with its partners is personally identifiable.

The FCC has rules in place to protect an individual's privacy. Wireless carriers cannot use a customer's personal information for marketing purposes unless they get that customer's permission. There is a loophole, however. A carrier can collect and use the data if it's for "enhancements" to services the customer already receives.

Policies for the retention of customer data vary from provider to provider. In August 2010, the ACLU published data collected by the US Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. Verizon retains a mobile user's website browsing history for 90 days, while Sprint holds it for 60 days. T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile don't save browsing history at all. [via Huffington Post]

by MacNN Staff



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