Verizon subscribers can now opt out of 'supercookies'

'This is an improvement, but it doesn't do nearly enough,' one privacy advocate said

Verizon's New Family of DROIDs

Verizon's New Family of DROIDs

Verizon customers can now opt out of having a unique identifier placed on their phones that critics have labelled a 'supercookie' because it's almost impossible to remove.

Verizon said in January that it would allow subscribers to opt out of the tracking mechanism, but it didn't say when. On Tuesday, it said the identifier won't be inserted for customers who opt out of its mobile advertising program.

The move hasn't satisfied privacy advocates, who say many customers won't be aware that they need to opt out of the program. The identifier should be "opt in" instead, those advocates say.

"This is an improvement, but it doesn't do nearly enough," said Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, a senior staff technologist with Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The EFF and other privacy groups have severely criticized the technology. While users can normally delete tracking cookies from their web browsers, Verizon's system sends a unique identifier to every unencrypted website its customers visit from their mobile browser.

That allows third-party websites and advertisers to track people's movements on the web, and users were unable to turn the identifier off, Hoffman-Andrews explained in a blog post last November.

Privacy advocates have called on Verizon to end the program, and last month three senators urged government agencies to investigate.

Verizon customers could opt out of the advertising side of the program, but not from having the identifier, referred to as the UIDH, placed on their phones.

Now, "Verizon Wireless has updated its systems so that we will stop inserting the UIDH after a customer opts out of the relevant mobile advertising program or activates a line that is ineligible for the advertising program," such as as a government or business line, Verizon said in a change to its policies Tuesday.

Customers can opt out by visiting their privacy settings page, or by calling 866-211-0874, the company said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags advertisingconsumer electronicssecurityverizonsmartphonesinternetprivacy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?