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"...may also share location information with other companies in a way that does not personally identify you..."
A message from Verizon popped into my inbox today informing me of an update regarding my privacy. And if you use the national cell carrier, you might want to pay attention to what it said.
How nice, I thought at first, I'm being told that I'm being tracked. Second thought: not again. It has become common place for what seems like almost every website and mobile device to start tracking its users in the name of -- as Verizon says -- "market reports" and "more relevant" mobile ads.
See, Verizon informed me that it will now start selling the data of the websites I visit, the apps and device features I use, my device location, demographic information gleaned from other companies, as well as the amount of time I use certain products.
The notice says, in red, that it will not share any information that identifies me personally. It even provides examples of how it will use my information to help make me comfortable with this tracking.
But as The Blaze covered earlier today, with all this information about you, even without explicitly stating who you are, a Stanford report says it's really not that hard to get to the personal information.
A report might state that 10,000 mobile users visited a sports website in a month and 60% were men. Data may be combined with other wireless carriers to show how many mobile phone users are on a highway during rush hour. A restaurant may only want to advertise to people who are within 10 miles of their location.
Kevin Fogarty from IT World and I share many of the same sentiments:
"Verizon Wireless may also share location information with other companies in a way that does not personally identify you so that they can produce limited business and marketing reports."
So they make the data itself available to anyone who wants it, even though it will have enough details about you that, if it became necessary, Verizon could use it as directions to do surgery on you remotely without bothering to turn on your webcam.
Nice. Especially at the bottom where it says "we will not sell your personal information to third parties," even though the sentence about giving the data to other companies says pretty clearly that it will.
Earlier this week, Verizon released an announcement that makes it appear location tracking won't be just for mobile devices, according to The Consumerist. Verizon states that it will share your geographic location, not your exact address, with advertisers who may be seeking to target their efforts.
Customers are given the option to opt out of any the "services" it is implementing.
You can read the full notice here.
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