Verizon is going to let users opt-out of being tracked with their so-called “supercookies”, tracking cookies that before now couldn’t be turned off or deleted. The cookies are used for tracking user’s web activities, location, and other information to sell to advertisers. Verizon has been using them for almost two years, and privacy advocates have been opposing them since the supercookies were first discovered. Before now, Verizon would let subscriber’s opt-out of marketing efforts, but you couldn’t actually opt-out of being tracked. Pretty soon users will be able to completely opt-out of the program and avoid being tracked all together.
Everything we do online is tracked. The issues with Verizon’s methods aren’t just about being tracked. Verizon uses Unique Identifier Headers, or supercookies, that stick with you wherever you go online and build a profile of you that advertisers love. It gets pretty scary, just how much these companies know about you and what you do online. Verizon, and the advertisers they sell to, could easily figure out who you really are based on all of the information they collect about you. Even if you as a Verizon customer opted-out of being marketed to, you were still being tracked. Supposedly Verizon is going to be fixing this soon and letting customers opt-out of the whole thing.
The part that stinks is that Verizon hasn’t been clear or up front about what they have been doing or how they are doing it. Companies like Google and Facebook make it pretty clear that they are tracking what you do and selling your information to advertisers. Verizon opted every one of their customers in to their tracking. They were found out by third party companies like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Now they are going to let customers opt-out of supercookie tracking, but what they need to do is remove everyone from this type of tracking and let users opt-in. Most customers won’t even know that they can opt-out, but I’d bet that no one would opt-in if given the choice. Bad job, Verizon. Bad job.