And no, I’m not talking about the TSA, so get your mind out of your packets.
Now you knew that Google was watching you. And Apple, too. And Homeland Security. And the black helicopters. And your mother. And the angels. And the man in the moving picture box, whom we’ll call “Herb” for the sake of this post.
Now Verizon is getting into the act.
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.”
“We’re able to view just everything that they do,” Bill Diggins, U.S. chief for the Verizon Wireless marketing initiative, told an industry conference earlier this year. “And that’s really where data is going today. Data is the new oil.”
Did you read that? The new “oil.” Black gold. Texas tea. The soft soap. The viscous beslaver.
Verizon Wireless says that its initiative, called Precision Market Insights, is legal because the information is aggregated and doesn’t reveal customers’ identities. Also, the company says, its customers can opt out at any time.
Yeah, right. That’s what my accountant told me about “taxes.”
It’s true, of course, that any company selling Internet connectivity needs to know the destination of packets so it can route them properly, a practice sometimes referred to as shallow packet inspection.
But monitoring which mobile apps customers are using and which URLs are visited typically means engaging in deep packet inspection, which is controversial because it’s more intrusive. …
Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank, agrees with the EFF’s Fakhoury that disclosing aggregated URLs visited can be legally risky. “If Verizon Wireless discloses the URLs you’ve accessed without your consent, it has violated (the Wiretap Act) — even if Verizon Wireless doesn’t disclose any other identifying information,” Radia said.
A company with deep packets can get away with almost anything. But you knew that already.
So what are we going to do about this? [crickets] That’s what I thought. I know I ain’t goin’ back to T-Mobile. The last time I got a signal from them, it was to hear that Clinton had been impeached.
Just so long as it’s Verizon Wireless and not Verizon FIOS. If I wanted to pay $1,100 a month for my TV to watch me, I’d start dressing better.