|Verizon, AT&T sell users' browsing, location histories to marketers|
|By Thom Holwerda on 2012-10-09 21:18:39|
|As it turns out, new Verizon customers (although there are reports existing customers are getting notified too) have 30 days to opt out of something really nasty: Verizon will sell your browsing history and location history to marketers. Apparently, AT&T does something similar. Doesn't matter what phone - iOS, Android, anything. Incredibly scummy and nasty. I quickly checked my own Dutch T-Mobile terms, and they don't seem to be doing this.|
|By Morgan on 2012-10-09 21:59:57|
Imagine that...the two largest carriers in the U.S., with the most expensive contract packages by far, are willing to sell their subscribers' information to make even more money. |
Not to say that Sprint and T-Mobile USA wouldn't necessarily do the same one day. I'm just glad they don't right now.
|- Score: 5|
|By No it isnt on 2012-10-09 22:04:45|
|It's a bit funny, though, that the two largest U.S. carriers are now slightly worse re: privacy invasion than pretty much all smartphone malware out in the wild. At least with normal sandboxing, most malware won't have access to your browsing history. Carriers have (although not for wifi).|
|- Score: 3|
|By WorknMan on 2012-10-09 22:14:31|
> Not to say that Sprint and T-Mobile USA wouldn't necessarily do the same one day. I'm just glad they don't right now. |
How do you know they don't already? Hell, I would be surprised if they didn't. Just like we share information with each other (esp copyrighted content), these companies are going to share whatever information they have about us.
The sooner that everybody understands that sharing is inevitable whether it works for us or against us, and can never be stopped, the sooner we can all learn to live with the reality that privacy no longer exists, and never will again as long as the Internet exists.
Just like piracy, the question of whether it is right or wrong for these companies to share stuff like our browsing history with each other is irrelevant. It is what it is.
Edited 2012-10-09 22:16 UTC
|- Score: 2|
|By Morgan on 2012-10-09 22:18:47|
|Well honestly I don't know for sure, but my Sprint agreement doesn't mention anything about selling my browsing or location data. I have to take them on faith else I won't be able to have any cellphone service if I don't wish to be tracked.|
|- Score: 2|
|By gan17 on 2012-10-09 22:20:53|
> How do you know they don't already? Hell, I would be surprised if they didn't. |
Same can probably be said for any carrier in the world, I would think.
At least these two are notifying customers of the opt out option (though you have to wonder if that really does anything). Pretty sure some carriers have been doing it without informing anyone.
|- Score: 2|
|By WorknMan on 2012-10-09 22:22:59|
> Pretty sure some carriers have been doing it without informing anyone. |
My point exactly. In fact, I bet they're ALL doing it, unless they specifically have said they aren't, and even then, I still wouldn't be surprised if they're doing it anyway. Me? I have an ad blocker on my phone, so they're welcome to collect all the info they want :)
Edited 2012-10-09 22:24 UTC
|- Score: 2|
|By darknexus on 2012-10-09 23:07:53|
> Well honestly I don't know for sure, but my Sprint agreement doesn't mention anything about selling my browsing or location data. I have to take them on faith else I won't be able to have any cellphone service if I don't wish to be tracked. |
Correction, you won't be able to have any internet service, period. The fact is, your ISP could be selling information to marketers too. Come to that, your phone company could be selling information about the calls you make, and it doesn't matter if we're talking about a cel phone or a land line. Let's all face facts, in this interconnected world we're living in, we will never have complete privacy. If you want to keep something private, it's best not to even put it out there or, if you absolutely must send it through the internets, encrypt it. Unless you have complete and total control over everything from the origin to the destination endpoints (and you never will) your privacy doesn't exist. It never did, once telephones became widespread.
|- Score: 2|
|By Morgan on 2012-10-09 23:19:13|
|Once again, it comes down to how much you trust the service provider. My Comcast agreement explicitly states that they will not sell or otherwise use my browsing and location information outside of a law enforcement subpoena or warrant. I have to believe them if I want to have a home internet connection; as of this news piece I'm certainly not going with AT&T DSL. Once again, Comcast could be lying to me but at least I have it on paper that they don't track and sell info. That's something that can be held over their head in court if necessary.|
|- Score: 7|
|Already happening at ISPs.|
|By Alfman on 2012-10-10 02:52:54|
People may not be aware that there is already precedent for broadband ISP tracking: |
NebuAd was an early pioneer in buying personal information from ISPs and reselling it. They'd install tracking systems at the ISP and pay ISPs $5/user/month for the privilege. However it turned out that customers weren't aware of what was going on and lawsuits caused them to go defunct.
Phorm is another notorious user packet tracking company that signed with large UK ISPs and is growing worldwide. The company and it's conglomerates have been responsible for numerous spyware software.
The opt-out controls at the heart of these systems is not at the ISP account level, but rather based on cookies, which is extremely problematic if one wanted to just opt out from ISP tracking all together without regards to user-login, browser, computer, tablet, etc. Users who want the most privacy typically disable cookies entirely so that third parties cannot track them, however this configuration would "permit" the ISPs & partners to track each request.
|- Score: 2|
|By Alfman on 2012-10-10 03:26:58|
"Once again, it comes down to how much you trust the service provider."
Voted you up...unless all your traffic is encrypted, you have to trust your ISP & it's partners.
I attempted to play devil's advocate and find some dirt on comcast, but I didn't find much recently; I did find this tidbit a decade ago however:
"Comcast, the nation's third-largest cable company, acknowledged this week that it is recording which Web pages each customer visits as part of a technology overhaul that it hopes will save money and speed up its network. The company said the move was not intended to infringe on privacy."
However amid political criticism, they've officially stopped tracking web requests.
There has been more recent criticism about comcast's use of DPI to block legit customer traffic, the feds intervened in that case, but it's arguable whether that fits under the classification of a "privacy" violation? It's kind of similar to having a mail man use some kind of xray to inspect the documents inside an envelope to determine the mail's priority. On the other hand, some people will argue the ISP should be entitled to shape traffic based on it's contents. My own view is that the ISP is to blame if they are over subscribing their service in the first place.
|- Score: 3|