Verizon launches new initiative to collect and sell your personal data to ad networks

Online advertisers, such as Google, have been doing it for years. However, what if your telecom company (mobile phone service provider) decided to start collecting your personal data and sell it for the purposes of serving you better targeted ads — what would you do? This is the question being posed to Verizon Wireless customers in the USA.

Verizon has launched its new ‘Verizon Selects’ in which Verizon collects “location, web browsing and mobile application usage data, as well as other information including customer demographic and interest data”. This data is then used to “create specific insights”, identify customers who “fit into certain audiences Verizon or third party marketers are trying to reach”, send “marketing messages or offers… delivered in various ways such as email, text, postal mail or online or mobile advertising”.

Essentially, through Verizon Selects, Verizon is going to collect personal data on its consumer customers (note: this isn’t for Verizon’s business customers) and sell that data to third-party advertisers for the purposes of serving targeted ads. Verizon itself also may use the data to serve its own ads.

Time to occupy Verizon? Not so fast.

You see as scary as this new program sounds, it is strictly opt-in. Verizon is contacting its customers to see who is interested in the program, and whoever is interested will have to explicitly opt-in to participate. People who don’t want to participate can simply not opt-in — you don’t even have to opt-out because you are automatically opted-out until you manually opt-in. People who do opt-in will receive “coupon or some other form of reward, most likely from a popular retailer” as a ‘thank you’ for participating and are promised that Verizon will never share personally identifiable data outside of Verizon.

So… anyone going to bite? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

[via Verizon Wireless]

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