Verizon will soon allow consumers to “completely opt out” of the program which assigns permanent identifiers to every device on the carrier’s wireless network.
These identifiers have been referred to as “perma-cookies” because they allow other companies, not just Verizon, to gather information about consumers even after they change their privacy settings or remove other data-saving files from their devices.
Verizon previously allowed its customers to opt out of having information gathered by these “perma-cookies” from being used to inform Verizon’s advertising, and it didn’t share information gleaned from their use with other advertising companies.
Yet this didn’t stop at least one company, Turn, from creating “zombie cookies” which reinstall themselves when they’re deleted. (The company claims deleting the files wasn’t an indication that a consumer didn’t want their activities to be tracked. Okay.)
MoPub, the advertising company acquired by Twitter in 2013, also uses the identifier to monitor activity on Verizon-connected smartphones and tablets. The exact number of companies tracking the “perma-cookies” isn’t currently known.
It’s not clear when consumers will be able to completely opt out of this program; a Verizon spokeswoman told the New York Times only that the company “expect[s] that to be available soon.” Until then, the perma-slash-zombie cookies will abound.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]