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Security & privacy

Use Verizon? There’s a new data tracking program gathering your info

Your privacy is at risk as long as you have a connection to the internet and online accounts. Though your actions have a big impact on how much others can find out about you, there are some things beyond your control.

You can choose to stay away from social media and keep your online profile to a minimum but the problem often starts at another level. According to the Federal Trade Commission, your internet service provider may be spying on you. Tap or click here for our report and a tip on blocking your ISP from keeping tabs on you.

It turns out that mobile providers are guilty of spying as well, at least in the case of Verizon. The telecommunications giant is offering to get closer to customers in the name of personalization. This raises a red flag, which is compounded by the way Verizon is going about it.

Here’s the backstory

Verizon’s “Custom Experience” program, as discovered by Input, is being touted as a way for the company to “personalize our communications with you, give you more relevant product and service recommendations, and develop plans, services, and offers that are more appealing to you.”

Verizon collects information from the websites you visit as well as the apps you use. It also uses device location information gleaned from the Verizon network and Verizon apps that have location permissions. Verizon also gathers information about who you call and who calls you.

There’s also a “Custom Experience Plus” program that uses a broader range of information. It keeps the information about websites you visit for no more than 6 months. Location and CPNI information is kept for about a year.

Verizon says that the information is shared with service providers who work for the company. Those same service providers are “required” not to use this information for marketing or advertising purposes.

Related: List: The very worst gifts you can give if you care about privacy

You’re already in

This is some pretty invasive data collection no matter the spin Verizon is putting on it. You may not be aware of it, but if you’re a Verizon customer, you’ve already opted in.

Luckily, you can opt out using the privacy preferences page. Here’s how:

  • Open the My Verizon app.
  • Tap the More tab, then the Settings icon.
  • Tap Manage privacy settings.
  • Tap Select below the mobile number you wish to update.
  • Switch off the toggles for Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus.
  • You can also adjust these privacy settings from the My Verizon site.

Keep reading

This new privacy-focused search engine wants to replace Google

A big reason you should stop using Google Chrome on your smartphone

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