Hold Verizon Accountable for Violating Its Users' Privacy
Verizon Wireless is allowing its users to be tracked by third parties, even if you've tried to opt out. Hold Verizon and its ad partner Turn accountable!
FCC – Verizon Wireless has attached unique tracking headers onto the browsing habits of all its users without their consent. This has given each individual a unique identity that is being used by advertisers and other third parties to re-identify users who have opted out of being tracked or who have deleted their cookies.
Verizon is violating the law by not being sufficiently transparent and by revealing potentially proprietary customer information. The telecom giant did not properly disclose the nature of the tracking header, they do not allow customers to opt-out of the tracking, and their current explanation of its use is deceptive at best: despite their claims to the contrary, third parties can use the headers to re-identify users since Verizon's efforts to anonymize the headers—such as cycling through IDs—do not actually work.
Verizon must be penalized accordingly.
FTC – Marketing firm Turn has utilized Verizon's tracking headers to re-identify users and resurrect deleted cookies on their browsers. Normally, users can delete their browser cookies to effectively dissociate themselves from the reading history that ad networks collect. Turn's practice thwarts users' desires and negates the most common action users take to protect their privacy: Even if you clear your cookies, Turn will re-assign you the exact same unique cookie you just deleted. Turn can only do this because Verizon sends the same unique tracking header, so Turn can simply look up the header value in an internal database.
This practice is deceptive and unfair. Turn is skirting users' expectations and intentions: when they delete their cookies—especially identifying cookies—they expect their cookies to remain deleted.
Turn must be penalized accordingly.
Verizon Wireless has tampered with its users' Web browsing activity to give each user a unique tracking number, allowing advertising networks and other third parties to identify us with no practical way of opting out. New research shows Verizon's advertising partner, Turn, using these tracking headers to re-identify users and reinstall cookies on their browsers—even after they've tried opting out of targeted ads or deleted their cookies.
This is an egregious violation of users' expectations of privacy. Setting a "perma-cookie" like this destroys any sense of control or anonymity on the internet.
Victory! Turn has pledged to suspend its zombie cookie program, and Verizon recently decided to allow consumers to opt out of its UIDH tracking program.
This is great news, but it isn't enough: injecting tracking headers at all is a huge problem. We're not done yet. Call upon Verizon to stand up for user privacy and make their tracking header program opt in.