Verizon Wireless Lets Customers Opt Out of Tracking 'Perma-Cookies'

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Last year, Verizon and AT&T made headlines when researchers discovered they had been engaging in some unsavory customer tracking techniques, using unique identifier numbers or "perma-cookies" to track the websites that customers visited on their cellular devices to deliver targeted advertisements, a practice called "Relevant Advertising."

    Following customer backlash, AT&T stopped using the hidden web tracking codes to keep tabs on the websites that its customers visited, but Verizon continued on with its Relevant Advertising program, which it's been using for approximately two years. While there was an option to opt out of Verizon's program, opting out did not stop the intrusive code from being inserted into the URLs of Verizon customers, leaving a security hole that could let advertisers exploit Verizon customers.

    As of today, The New York Times reports that Verizon has given its customers a true opt out option that does not insert the identifying tracking codes (or UIDH) into the URLs of customers who opt not to be tracked, as it promised to do in January.
    Verizon customers can opt out of the Relevant Advertising program by logging into their My Verizon accounts and selecting "Manage Privacy Settings" from the "Manage My Account" section of their user profile. AT&T and Verizon customers are able to check whether their devices are sending identifying codes by visiting a website created by Kenneth White, one of the security researchers who originally discovered the tracking methods. Verizon's tracking programs are automatic opt-in, so many users may need to navigate to the aforementioned page to turn off the tracking.

    Article Link: Verizon Wireless Lets Customers Opt Out of Tracking 'Perma-Cookies'
  2. dernhelm macrumors 68000


    May 20, 2002
    middle earth
  3. usersince86 macrumors 6502


    Oct 24, 2002
    Columbus, Ohio
    "As a reminder, we never share information with third parties that identifies our customers as part of our advertising programs."

    "...Hackers, however, have full access."

  4. DoctorTech macrumors 6502


    Jan 6, 2014
    Indianapolis, IN
    Thank you!

    I had not heard about this before reading the article. I just opted out for all the phones and devices on my plan.
  5. ReddestDream macrumors member

    Aug 22, 2010
    North Carolina
    I was already Opted-Out of everything I could be, and I was pleased to find that my traffic is no longer being altered! ^_^

    P.S. FYI, yes, this device is jailbroken.
  6. techwhiz macrumors 6502a

    Feb 22, 2010
    Northern Ca.
    Me too.
    I was already opted out so now it works as it should.
  7. kemal macrumors 65816


    Dec 21, 2001
  8. C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

    Oct 17, 2011
    I believe the setting was there before, and I already opted out some time ago, so not quite sure what changed now in relation to it--is it that they applied that already existing setting to something more than what it used to apply to?
  9. RayK macrumors 6502

    Oct 13, 2005
    How long did it take to change for you?
  10. iUX macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2014
    I wish more people would take notice that merely opting out with the language these companies use does not say they will not do it, delete things, stop doing it and will NOT track in any way... They are most likely still recording every single interaction and site.
  11. ThisIsNotMe Suspended

    Aug 11, 2008
    Shame there is no way to opt-out of Google or Facebook tracking.
  12. 69Mustang macrumors 603


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    From the article - "While there was an option to opt out of Verizon's program, opting out did not stop the intrusive code from being inserted into the URLs of Verizon customers, leaving a security hole that could let advertisers exploit Verizon customers."

    So basically yes. With their new opt out, you're actually opted out.


    There is for Google. Not sure about FB.
  13. waffffffle macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2010
    Not working for me.

    I have a Verizon iPad provided by my employer. While I thought I couldn't modify this setting I figured out that I can sign up as a user on the account to monitor my data usage (it involves receiving an SMS on the iPad, which is weird).

    Now that I can log in I can't get this option to show up. When I go to the URL it shows me some text about their privacy policy and location based services, but not the ability to opt out of the tracking header. I know they are appending the tracking header to my device since I can see at the site.

    Attached Files:

  14. JeffiJers macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2012
  15. adamhenry macrumors 68000


    Jan 1, 2015
    On the Beach
    I just opted out. I had to disable my javascript blocker to get it to save.
  16. gavroche macrumors 65816


    Oct 25, 2007
    Left Coast
    Side note... If we pay that MacRumors membership... does it make those new adds that show up on the iPhone, which make you continue swiping up until they go away, disappear? (i know it is supposed to make normal browser ads go away)...
  17. Lazy macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    "Debra Lewis, a Verizon spokeswoman, said privacy is a 'central consideration' for the company when it develops new products and services."

    If she meant they think "how can we maximize our profit from using our customers' private data", then sure. Otherwise that's laughable, as the opposite is obviously the case.
  18. iReality85 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 29, 2008
    It really is sad how infested the web has become with these trackers. That and studies continually show that the general public is increasingly ok with surrendering their privacy in exchange for convenience.
  19. Supermallet macrumors 65816


    Sep 19, 2014
    Thanks for posting this. I just opted out on all my lines. I'll keep checking the sniffer website for the next few days to make sure it actually goes through.
  20. dannyyankou macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
  21. iPad Air macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2013
    SC, USA
    QUOTE: In a statement, Debra Lewis, a Verizon spokeswoman, said privacy is a "central consideration" for the company when it develops new products and services.

    Only after Verizon gets serious backlash for its privacy policies.
  22. Raineer, Mar 31, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015

    Raineer macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2008
    Watched that for awhile myself. Was also able to confirm that the same X-UIDH will show on a Wireless-only device if you are tethered to your Verizon LTE device. Stood to reason that would be the case but was interesting to see.

    It's been 20 minutes and the X-UIDH isn't disappearing. I confirmed the change saved on the privacy page, and restarted the phone / cycled airport mode / wireless, etc. No change yet.

    In the midst of these tests, I learned that the VPN tunnel from server->iPhone does not communicate on to a tethered device. I can still see my LTE IP and UID on the tethered device even though my VPN prevents it on the phone.

    Making a second VPN connection on the tethered device was needed. That wasn't intuitive to me and is disappointing :(

    Also - an hour and still no disappearing UID with the preference change. Maybe I'll check tomorrow.
  23. mikec999 macrumors member


    Oct 22, 2014
    The Woodlands
  24. discuit macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2009
    Logged in to find that I was already opted out- perhaps because of opting out of CPNI previously?
  25. ThisIsNotMe Suspended

    Aug 11, 2008
    What is more disturbing is that someone simply visiting MacRumors without an account and having never signed up for Facebook or Google is now being tracked by Facebook and Google while never agreeing to any ToS.


    How do you suggest one do that?

    Someone just visiting the MacRumors front page, never signing up for MacRumors, Google, or Facebook and agreeing to any ToS is being tracked by both Google and Facebook.

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