Verizon Wireless (VZ) Decides To Make Its Controversial Tracking Program Voluntary For Users

Verizon Wireless, the subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:VZ), has decided to make changes to its controversial tracking program called “Relevant Mobile Advertising”. These changes come as a response to privacy concerns voiced by consumers and government officials alike.

Verizon Wireless is one of the largest wireless telecommunications service providers in the US. The company has persistently explored options to increase its revenue through advertising. In its recent program, the company used user identification to deliver targeted ads to consumers. This was supposed to be a win-win situation for both the company and advertisers alike. But the company compromised consumer privacy in the process.

The company tagged its users with tracking codes that could not be deleted. Critics have nicknamed these codes as “Supercookies”. The company referred these unique identifiers as “UIDH”. The customers were provided with the option to unsubscribe from the program. However, they didn’t have an option to opt out from customer codes. As pointed out by some security experts, these tracking codes could be easily used to pry on user’s web browsing habits.

This January, four member of Senate sent a letter to Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:VZ), asking information on company’s data security and privacy practices. The company subsequently decided to make this program voluntary for users.

Debra Lewis, a spokeswoman of the company, said that company always takes privacy issues seriously. She added that the company does not share information with third parties that identifies their customers as a part of company’s advertising program. Users can now opt out of the program by logging in on the company’s website or by calling 1-866-211-0874.

This comes as a reminder as how user’s privacy can be compromised by their service provider. Verizon Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:VZ) is a big name in the industry. It alerts citizens and politicians alike when a company like this introduces a program that tags its customers for the sheer benefit from advertising. For now, Verizon Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:VZ) has taken a step backward. Perhaps, this might be a lesson for companies before they decide to pry on user data.