This is a huge problem.
“We’re able to view just everything that they do,” Bill Diggins, U.S. chief for the Verizon Wireless marketing initiative
How is it that we haven’t addressed this yet?
Cellphone providers should not be allowed to collect, share, or sell customers’ private data. Yet they are.
This article addresses Verizon, but believe me they’re just the first ones to get caught with their pants down. I’m sure all US wireless providers are or are planning to sell customer data.
Verizon Wireless has begun selling information about its customers’ geographical locations, app usage, and Web browsing activities, a move that raises privacy questions and could brush up against federal wiretapping law.
The company this month began offering reports to marketers showing what Verizon subscribers are doing on their phones and other mobile devices, including what iOS and Android apps are in use in which locations. Verizon says it may link the data to third-party databases with information about customers’ gender, age, and even details such as “sports enthusiast, frequent diner or pet owner.”
Aggregating and purportedly anonymizing the data doesn’t make it any better. Numerous companies exist solely to buy data from various sources , aggregate it, data mine it, and make connections that the originators of the data wouldn’t be allowed to. The sort of info about us that these companies are selling right now makes sharing electronic medical records look like playground gossip.
Verizon’s Diggins touted the carrier’s extensive monitoring abilities: “We’re able to analyze what people are viewing on their handsets. If you’re at an MLB game, we can tell if you’re viewing ESPN, we can tell if you’re viewing MLB, we can tell what social networking sites you’re activating, if you’re sending out mobile usage content that’s user-generated on video.”
“We’re able to identify what that customer likes not by filling out a form, but by analyzing what they do on a day-to-day basis. We’re able to serve them products that we know they like because we’ve seen that they’ve gone through and downloaded products like it.”
I get that companies need to make money. Go capitalism, go! There has to be limits though. Just because someone can make money doesn’t mean society should let them. How about we let hospital’s sell unclaimed John Doe stiffs for profit? Or how about we let them sell the medical records of people for whom they don’t have a valid name or address? That’s anonymous data. Aggregate that and see if people stand for it.
Says Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project: “When you pay a company $80 a month, they have no business monetizing the data they’re collecting.”
Here is the link to Verizon’s opt out page. Rest assured that the staff here at NobodyisFlyingthePlane has opted.