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Verizon Wireless bugs customer devices, tracks location, web activity, and app usage

[1]What has an antenna, fits in your pocket, costs money monthly to use, and violates your privacy? A smartphone from Verizon Wireless. Verizon Wireless has announced plans to start tracking their customers’ smartphone data for “certain business and marketing reports and making mobile ads you see more relevant.” Exactly what data are we talking about? Most of what you use your smartphone for — surfing the web, using apps, and geographic location:

Personally identifiable information is not “shared” and Verizon does allow customers to opt-out of this tracking (by visiting http://vzw.com/myprivacy [2] or calling 1-866-211-0874; family plans must do it for all devices individually), so this is no big deal. Right? Right? Rightttt? Okay, maybe not right. Class action lawsuit coming in 3…2…1…

On a more serious note, there are no details as to if this is platform specific or if this will apply to all smartphones. I’d love to see Verizon run this one past Apple. (There are advantages of selling millions of units in a span of few days, ya’ know.)

I don’t understand how Verizon execs think people will be alright with this. I mean, yeah, Verizon isn’t the first company to track web activity, with Google being the largest culprit coming to mind. However, Google’s business model is providing free services backed by advertising. People pay Verizon to use Verizon’s services… and apparently to have their privacy violated, too. Not to mention if you don’t like what Google is doing you can stop using their services (or at least try); with Verizon many customers are stuck in contracts with no choice but to continue to use Verizon. (Technically there is a clause in contracts that says people are allowed to break contract without paying the early termination fee if the contract has been modified by the carrier. However, based off some comments that I have read, it appears Verizon is not considering this to be a change in contract and therefore not giving people a get-out-of-jail-free card.)

Anyone wanting more details can hit up the link below which shows an “important notice” released by Verizon regarding these changes:

Important notice by Verizon on how they treat you like crap [3]

[via Engadget [4]]

P.S. The title of this article claims Verizon “bugs” devices. I used the word bug for dramatic effect — don’t take it literally. I don’t know exactly how Verizon collects/will collect the above-mentioned data so I am not claiming they literally bug devices.