recommended reading

The possible privacy violations of Verizon's cell phone tracking program

Paul Sakuma/AP File Photo

Capitalizing on all the information we put into our cell phones, Verizon Wireless is selling all our app usage and location information to marketers, reports CNET's Declan McCullagh. Part of what it calls thePrecision Market Insights initiative, Verizon is not only tracking consumers, it is sharing that information with other companies, and possibly linking it to databases with more of your personal information. "We're able to view just everything that they do," Bill Diggins, U.S. chief for the Verizon Wireless marketing initiative, said at an industry conference earlier this year. "And that's really where data is going today. Data is the new oil."

If it sounds creepy, that's because it might not be legal, even though Verizon did the bare minimum to make it sound that way by only selling the information in aggregate and also providing an opt-out feature. Still Paul Ohm, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School, who works at the Federal Trade Commission told McCullagh this might all violate federal wiretapping law because it digs deep into our cell phone transactions. As this stuff gets kind of murky, we spoke with Ryan Calo, an affiliate scholar for the Center for Internet and Society and Assistant law professor at the University of Washington, who explained how exactly this could violate the FTC's privacy guidelines (and also creep you out).

There are a few things that Calo told us to consider in this situation: Anonymity, the ability to opt-out, Verizon's clarity, possible harm, and then the wire tapping issue. Verizon must comply with all of these things, not just one. "Even if you give consumers notice about a particular practice and you permit them to opt-out at least the FTC has been clear that you can't bury the lede," he told The Atlantic Wire. Let's see how the cell phone company did. 

Read more at The Atlantic Wire

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.