Whenever we talk about Verizon, it seems that there's always something in the back, something that's a little "0ff". This time around, it's the news that Verizon are selling customers' location data to certain partners. Of course, this is hardly a secret, they've been doing this since October but, the WSJ are reporting the types of data and what it could be used for. This all started back in October, when Verizon started up their Precision Market Insights, which essentially gives subscribers to the platform a way to see the location of Verizon's customers and more.
Verizon released a very short and sweet Press Release on the matter last year, in which the company sums up this new service as follows:
Precision is comprised of a suite of services designed to deliver targeted business intelligence and analysis to companies that want to expand the reach and precision of their marketing efforts.
Anyone catch that? "Business intelligence"? What is this, a spy flick? Needless to say, Verizon are referring to the data that they can essentially harvest from their own customers, which they say goes towards helping the following type of businesses:
Companies such as outdoor media companies, sport venues, and other marketers, to understand the characteristics of the audiences for their products and services so that they can better reach and serve those customers. Business and marketing insights use information from Verizon's mobile network that is gathered and combined with demographic data, then aggregated to provide real insights into consumer behavior. Data associated with the preparation of business and marketing reports is anonymous and secure and will not allow the identification of an individual.
Verizon do go on to state that this is all anonymous (as you can read above) which is one thing but the idea of your location or anything else being shared is uncomfortable for a lot of us, no matter how "anonymous" it might be. The age of the street-side survey seems to be gone, and this is the new way to source all the information that you could ever want. Verizon are apparently getting info on what websites these people have been heading to, how old they are and then grouping it all together. Of course, if this improves such a thing as online ticketing for the local sports team, then it could be viewed as a good thing. We can't really blame Verizon for this, and they do say that they're abiding by all applicable laws. They're not the only ones either.
AT&T's Jeff Weber, President of Content and Advertising Sales, says that they'd love to be able to offer such a service, with the option to opt-out. Right there, the phrase "opt-out" is the big take away here. How can I opt-out of this if I am on Verizon? Well, you can apparently do so by heading on over to their website. Do we really think it's that easy though?
I'm of the opinion here that if Verizon are going to be collecting this sort of data and make even more money off of me (outside of my monthly bill) then it should be made immensely clear to me when signing that contract. As for opting-out of the service, that should be made the easiest thing the company offers. This company is making money off of me and I have to dig around to opt-out of it? Sorry, Verizon, not good enough. What do you guys think, does this bother you, even if it's anonymous? How about opting-out, should it be clear and easy to do so for all customers?