Verizon selling subscriber data to businesses, AT&T investigating ways to do the sameAlex Wagner - Editorial Director of News and Content
Heads up, Verizon Wireless customers, because a new report has surfaced with details on how your operator has started selling customer data to other businesses. The Wall Street Journal notes that Verizon uses a company called Precision Market Insights, which launched in October 2012, to offer data on its subscribers to like malls and billboard owners. One such buyer is the Phoenix Suns, which uses Verizon's data to map out the locations of its game attendees in order to increase its advertising in certain places.
The data being collected by Verizon can be related to websites visited, location information and demographic background. Verizon explains that the data is "broad information" about groups of subscribers, not about individual people or its business and government users, and that the info that's being sold is being gathered anyway. Verizon told customers in 2011 that it may use their data in this manner, and users are able to opt out on Verizon's website. AT&T told the WSJ that it doesn't have an entity to sell customer data like Verizon does, but that it has been investigating ways to sell customer data while also allowing them to opt out.
Even though Verizon gave its customers a heads-up that it could decide to use their data in this way, some subscribers may not be comfortable with the idea of information related to them being sold to businesses and advertisers. Verizon is likely interested in finding new ways of bringing in money rather than relying on things like minutes and data usage, which won't grow forever, and so it's no surprise that the big red carrier has opted to sell data to interested businesses. The good news is that customers can opt out by visiting the Manage Privacy Settings section of their Verizon account. What do you think of carriers selling anonymized customer data to businesses?