Verizon, the American broadband and telecommunications giant has been up to some snooping lately, and it does not look good.
It turns out that Verizon’s 100 million mobile customers have been exposed to silent tracking using a cookie-like tracker, a super-cookie of sorts, included in an HTTP header called X-UIDH.
Part of Verizon’s Precision Market Insights program which began in 2012, the cookie monitors a Verizon customer’s movement across the internet through a mobile device. Worse still is that it can’t be opted out of and allows third party advertisers and websites to gather visitor web habits in a blatant breach of privacy.
In Verizon’s advertiser serving ways, the EFF reports that, the telecom outfit’s failure to permit its users to opt out of X-UIDH may be a violation of the federal law that requires phone companies to maintain the confidentiality of their customers’ data.
Using a VPN that encrypts all requests made from a mobile device phone, regardless of whether they were made by an app or a browser, may provide a solution, although VPNs are paid services and requires the customer to trust them as the customer might trust an ISP service. Other protection tools include using a encrypted proxy which although protects browser traffic, does nothing to to mobile apps.
Earlier this year Verizon was slapped with a $7.4 million fine by the Federal Communications Commission for using “customers’ personal information for thousands of marketing campaigns without even giving them the choice to opt out.”
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(Image Credit: Mike Mozart)