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:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

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