Verizon found themselves in the spotlight of the media for all of the wrong reasons back in November when several security analysts reported that the telecom giant was collecting what they referred to as “Supercookies.” These cookies, which were unstoppable at the user-end, allowed Verizon to track what their customers were doing online, even when they shut down traditional cookies, or worked through the several traditional settings options that exist.
Throughout the holiday season, though Verizon did a great job of quelling many of those concerns around the security and the role that Verizon was playing with advertisers. While they did not do anything major to disprove they exist, Verizon did try to ensure their customers that they would not be tracked to the extent that the security analysts had said.
AT&T also made headlines late last year for having a similar cookie be present within their system, and even though they ensured their customers that it was only a test – and a test that they discontinued – the result was ultimately the same. It used a unique identifier to track the user online, and ultimately that information was sold to advertisers to target specific ads at particular individuals depending on their tastes. Recently, a Verizon Wireless representative said, “We are evaluating how third parties are using the UIDH in this evolving ecosystem and considering any appropriate response.”
However, this cookie that was ultimately created by Verizon for the purpose of tracking its users while they are on the Verizon network – for the purpose of selling this information to advertisers – isn’t anything new. In fact, even as AT&T was only recently brought under the gun for the implementation of the supercookie, it is something that has been around within the Verizon network for over two years. Ultimately, the cookie tracking, especially when the cookie is as powerful as this one is, is something that users are not fond of – for very good reason.
It is yet another way that large corporations can follow their customers, and track their behavior or patterns – something that even those, who are just vaguely concerned about online privacy, don’t find very entertaining. It would not appear as though Verizon is backing down, though, so this could be something that becomes a legal issue sooner-than-later.