This article was published on March 7, 2016

FCC drops the hammer on Verizon over ‘supercookie’ usage

FCC drops the hammer on Verizon over ‘supercookie’ usage
Bryan Clark
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Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

For the past three years, Verizon has been using a so-called ‘supercookie’ to track users and sell this information to outside advertising partners. Now, the FCC is levying a $1.35 million fine and requiring Verizon to offer consumers the ability to opt-out of its various tracking programs.

For two years, the supercookie  — which is actually called Unique Identifier Header, or UIDH — program tracked users in secret using technology similar to a tracking cookie — only this tracking cookie couldn’t be cleared.

Verizon started using the UIDH program in 2012 to serve better-targeted ads on its own advertising platforms. It wasn’t until 2014 when Verizon first made mention of its use of supercookies by burying the information on an FAQ page.

Only after public outcry, an FCC investigation and continued media scrutiny did Verizon finally relent and include information about this tracking program in its privacy policy in March, 2015 — nearly three years after the program began. 2015 also marked the first time Verizon allowed customers to opt-out of the program.

According to today’s agreement with the FCC (called a ‘consent decree’) Verizon can still collect user information for internal use on its own ad platforms. It can’t, however, share thisinformation with third-parties unless the customer elects to opt-in and willfully share this data.

FCC Busts Verizon Wireless For Tracking Users Without Consent [Fast Company]

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