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Verizon yields to pressure.

Verizon Wireless has succumbed to pressure regarding its use of a Unique Identifiable Header (UIDH) for tracking customers' web traffic. Although customers could opt out of having their information sold to third-party marketers, Verizon chd not offer an opt out of the UIDH until the end of January.

The wireless company started inserting UIDH into the web traffic of its retail customers (not corporate or government contacts) in 2012, reported the Washington Post. It was quickly dubbed the "supercookie" as privacy groups and others protested its use, stating the concern that other companies (and even governments) could use the supercookie to track an individual's online activities.

In November, AT&T abandoned its plans to implement a similar program. But Verizon brushed off the critics until a privacy researcher revealed that a third-party advertising tracker company was using the UIDH to bring back its own cookies, even if consumers had tried to remove them. According to the Washington Post, the tracking company has since stated it was discontinuing the practice. Verizon announced it would allow customers to opt out of having supercookies inserted into their web traffic.

The privacy watchdog group Electronic Frontier Foundation has meanwhile petitioned the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission to investigate Verizon for "unfair and deceptive" practices related to the UIDH. A few Congressional members are also looking into it.

Verizon's decision to allow customers to opt out is not enough for some critics. The Center for Digital Democracy reportedly has stated opting out should be the default that users should have to choose to opt in.

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Title Annotation:PRIVACY; Verizon Wireless
Publication:Information Management Journal
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Mar 1, 2015
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