When Verizon purchased AOL earlier this year they got access to massive amounts of user data and the ability to implement a way to share their customer data to ad companies.
Starting in November Verizon will combine its ability to gather customer data with its supercookie and AOLs ad network. Verizon’s supercookie is a controversial, often unlockable, identifier that inserts the ability to track user’s website use. This allows Verizon to build profiles associated with their customers that indicate the products they like. Verizon can then use those profiles to sell customized ads via AOLs massive ad network.
While on the surface, the idea of someone gathering data on you to give customized ads may doesn’t seem like such a big deal, it is. First, you don’t get a choice in the tracking. The way Verizon is implementing this is on their server side, which means you the user cannot opt out and will likely not be able to block the tracking. Second, the use of Verizon’s supercookie can allow other 3rd parties to track users around the internet, even on your mobile device. Lastly, the information gathered is unencrypted which means other non-authorized persons (governments, hackers) can grab the information for their own uses.
If you’re a Verizon customer you may consider switching internet providers.