Verizon wants to know everything you do online because that knowledge means more profit for them—and short of switching phone companies, there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
The second-richest Internet company in America has been injecting a unique 50-character identifier into its wireless customers’ Internet traffic for two years in order to track you and make money by advertising to you, Wired reports.
Verizon’s actions, however, are unparalleled. As an Internet service provider, they’re in the position to deeply violate users’ privacy in a way that would make Mark Zuckerberg jealous. There’s no way to turn the tracking off, Verizon says, and other websites and ad networks can use the identifier to build a profile of everything you do online whether you consent or not.
Verizon Wireless customers can opt out of the Relevant Mobile Advertising Program, but the identifier is still broadcast and thus able to be seen and used by other parties.
The Unique Identifier Header (UIDH) was criticized by Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, a technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who told Wired that the “perma-cookie” breaks users’ trust. He’s currently looking into preliminary reports that AT&T is doing the same thing.