The company recently notified users of changes to its Relevant Mobile Advertisement program. The enhancements mean the company can now track customer browsing on not just your mobile devices but your laptops and desktop computers, as well, The Los Angeles Times reports.
“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,” the notice states.
Debra Lewis, a spokeswoman with Verizon, tells the Times that when a customer registers on the company’s My Verizon website to see a bill or watch TV online tracking software is downloaded onto the customer’s device.
That software allows a data-collection company to gather information about the sites you visit after leaving the company’s website.
A consumer’s identity is masked before being shared with marketers. However, Lewis says that a customer’s mobile number has to be known to marketers so they can target ads to that user.
To keep your computer off-limits, consumers must opt-out by visiting a designated page on the site.
Joanne, of California, tells the Times that the company seems to be boasting about the new capabilities in their notice.
“Verizon makes it seem like they are doing us a great favor,” she says before declaring the program horrible.
Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearing House in San Diego says consumers will be seeing more and more of these kinds of programs.
“The holy grail for profiling people is to follow them from one device to another,” he says.
Other companies such as Google and Yahoo have used similar data leveraging to subsidize their free services. However, Verizon is paid up-front by customers for the services they use. Meaning the company may just be pocketing the revenue made from data collection.
Lewis, with Verizon, tell the Times that the program isn’t too intrusive.
“Some people may want to see advertising that’s more relevant,” Lewis said. “There’s potential benefit for marketers and potential benefit for consumers.”
Verizon Wireless sells out customers with creepy new tactic [Los Angeles Times]