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Verizon's shady privacy practices continue to draw controversy

Verizon tells customers that they "may require enrollment" in Verizon Selects when no choice whether to join or not actually exists. You must join.
October 24, 2014
Phone Verizon Money

During the last year, Verizon has made a number of changes that have resulted in increased profits at the expense of customers privacy.

In April, Verizon decided to “enhance” their Relevant Mobile Advertising program by allowing themselves to collect and hand over your online habits to marketers with creepy precision. In August, we found out that Verizon was scanning customers accounts without the customers permission. To be fair, Verizon claims they do this to find child pornography. But, Verizon still refuses to release details about this scanning program. Is it done just to find child pornography? If you find other illegal materials, do they get turned in? We don’t know.

Now, the Los Angeles Times has brought up another example of Verizon coaxing customers into their new “rewards” program.

Eric Purtell, who has been a Verizon Wireless customer for nearly a decade, had every reason to think the company was rewarding his loyalty. A recent email told Purtell that he’d already accumulated almost 41,000 rewards points simply by using his cellphone. If he signed up for Verizon Smart Rewards, Purtell was informed, he could use those points “to plan the perfect night out” and “save big on restaurants, entertainment and other local deals.”
Not exactly. What Verizon Wireless was doing was luring Purtell into giving permission for his personal information to be used for increased marketing. Call it a points-for-privacy swap — yet another sneaky ploy by a large company to get customers to divulge personal information or, worse, to open the floodgates to marketers. – Los Angeles Times

Mr. Purtell even admits that he went through the contract with Verizon and still didn’t notice that he was being signed up for something called Verizon Selects. This means that he will have his online browsing, apps and physical location scrutinized by Verizon so that marketers can contact him. How wonderful.

The LA Times spoke to a Verizon rep who seemed rather tone-deaf about the privacy concerns that some may have about the program.

She said Verizon Selects tracks people’s “use of Verizon products and services, the websites they visit and apps they use, interests, demographics and information about the quantity, type, destination, location and amount of use of Verizon voice services.” – Los Angeles Times

So customers will give up how they use their Verizon products, Verizon services, websites, apps, interests, demographics and all information on their involvement with voice services? That’s it?

Better yet, Verizon tells potential victims customers of the rewards program that they “may require enrollment” in Verizon Selects when no choice whether to join or not actually exists. You must join. Verizon must have forgotten to add the “must” into that sentence. Not to worry though as you can opt out of Verizon Selects… except Verizon just won’t tell you this, nor will they explain how to do it.