Verizon has finally listened to their customers. Instead of continuing to implement their Supercookies without giving their customers the opportunity to opt-out of having those cookies present on their devices, the company will finally allow customers to permanently stop supercookies from being tracked on their smartphones or tablets. Originally a part of a targeted ad campaign, which assigned a special number to each cell phone user, it would track the web pages frequently visited by Verizon users and then target ads as result of those search histories, and website inquiries.
A spokesperson for Verizon issued a statement, which read in part, “We listen to our customers and provide them the ability to opt out of our advertising programs. We have begun working to expand the opt-out to include the identifier referred to as the UIDH and expect that to be available soon.” The spokesperson then went on to assure customers and individuals widely that the company would never actually sell, or distribute any information that was collected, for third-party purposes. Verizon had been feeling the impacts of this for some time though, and now, users will finally get their way and have a genuine opportunity to free themselves of these supercookies, which have been around since 2012.
A petition was signed by more than 2,000 people – which reads in part, “The telecom giant did not properly disclose the nature of the tracking header,” referring to the UIDH, which explicitly tracks the traffic on Verizon devices. “They do not allow customers to opt-out of the tracking, and their current explanation of its use is deceptive at best,” the petition read. While Verizon has issued statements on the supercookie issue, a clear date has not yet been set – which leads many advocates to wonder how much longer they will have to deal with these supercookies being deployed on their devices. Either way, it’s something that has clearly impacted Verizon, as well as other companies like AT&T who had a similar program in place – which was quickly shut down upon public outcry from customers who felt as though their privacy was being compromised, and their information being shared with undisclosed recipients.