Verizon has decided to allow its customers to completely opt-out of its controversial 'supercookie' tracking program, which monitored customers' habits on their smartphones and tablets. Like, for real this time.
When Wired published a story revealing Verizon's tracking methods, people (like me) understandably complained that it was an affront to privacy, especially since the supercookies allowed third-parties like mobile ad company Turn to shadow Verizon customers' mobile habits. Using a "unique tracking identifier" that attached code to web traffic, the supercookie provided an efficient way to follow Verizon customers around online. AT&T had a similar program but shut it down after complaints; Verizon ignored the outcry and only offered a half-assed and mostly useless partial opt-out that still allowed tracking.
Well, now it's finally providing a complete opt-out, finally allowing people to disable the supercookie fully. But Verizon doesn't deserve a crumb of congratulations for dismantling the tracking device.
When people initially complained, a Verizon spokesperson told Wired that Verizon was unable to turn the tracking off completely. Sounds like Verizon came up with a some newfangled removal process to defang its rogue technology in a remarkably short period of time.
It's good for users that Verizon is listening to consumer advocacy groups, but this should've been opt-in from the beginning. Verizon's reluctant back-pedal still barely meets a minimum of privacy standards. [New York Times]