Verizon Wireless is coming under criticism after it was revealed that, not only has the company been monitoring user activity and browser habits, it is selling this data to marketers.
The data consists of geographical location, browsing habits, and app usage. Verizon is “able to view just everything that [users] do,” said Bill Diggins, US chief for the Verizon Wireless marketing initiative. He also mentioned that this apparently shouldn’t be a big deal by saying, “And that’s really where data is going today. Data is the new oil.”
The problem is that oil doesn’t contain personal information from users. Verizon believes what they’re doing is perfectly legal, since the information is aggregated and doesn’t reveal the identities of its customers. Though, staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury, who works with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, thinks otherwise.
“I don’t see any substantive difference between collecting content from one person and turning it over to someone, and collecting it from multiple people, aggregating that information and then turning the aggregated data over to someone else…In the end, there is still a capturing of content from the user at some point — and that’s what the potential (Wiretap Act) problem is,” said Fakhoury.
Verizon does claim users have the ability to opt out at any time. Additionally, the company says their program “complies with the law and protects the privacy” of its customers. Do you plan to opt out of such a program?