Senators Want Verizon Supercookies Investigated

Business / Tech

Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are asking the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to investigate the Verizon supercookies being used to track Verizon customers online activity. Most users are aware of browser cookies on their laptops and desktops even in their mobile browsers like Chrome and Safari. With browser cookies you have control over whether or not to allow cookies to be used on your system. The difference with Verizon’s supercookies is that initially, Verizon told no one they were using them and the cookies were not removable.

“This whole supercookie business raises the specter of corporations being able to peek into the habits of Americans without their knowledge or consent,” Nelson said in a statement. “That’s why I think we need to get to the bottom of this and perhaps [adopt] new legislation.”

Just recently Verizon responded by now allowing customers to opt-out of the supercookie program, although the opt-out has not yet rolled out. The problem with the opt-out and the delayed launch of the program, is that most consumers will likely not even be aware of it and Verizon will continue collecting browser and online activity from them. Verizon responded to the story with the following statement.

“We never share information that individually identifies our customers with third parties, and we give customers appropriate choices about whether and in what circumstances they will see advertising that is tailored to them,” Silliman said. “We are also sensitive to concerns raised by our customers, and we make changes to our programs to address their concerns. For example, last week we announced that we are implementing a process to automatically disable the UIDH [“Unique Identifier Header” — aka the supercookie technology] for customers who opt out of our advertising program.”

As we continue to use the Internet to live out our lives we can only expect to see the level of targeted advertising to increase. Most consumers are probably OK with some level of information tracking so long as they know it is happening. Verizon’s misstep was to not let customers know what they were doing nor letting them turn the feature off. Legislation and involving government isn’t always the best solution but when companies try and pull the wool over consumers eyes, this is what happens. What do you think of Verizon’s supercookies? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

  Source: CNET
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