It seems like companies are doing everything they can to squeeze extra revenue out of their customers these days by taking advantage of the personal usage data they collect. Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) are likely the two tech companies that are most often associated with turning usage data into dollars — Google isn’t even shy about it anymore — but plenty of other companies collect data from their users and use it to make money in a variety of ways. Two such companies, as it turns out, are Verizon Wireless (VZ) and AT&T (T).
UPDATE: A Verizon Wireless spokesperson contacted BGR to confirm that data collected is “anonymous and aggregated,” and to note that users have 30 days from the date they activate a new phone to make an initial decision, but they can then change their privacy settings later at any time.
While the data may or may not be made anonymous — Verizon’s verbiage is unclear — the more disheartening fact is that the carrier uses an opt-out policy, meaning it will share your data unless you take action and request that the company keep your info private. Worse still, users only have 30 days from the time they activate a new smartphone to opt out of having their usage data shared.
Of course, Verizon doesn’t go out of its way to make this policy known to customers.
If you purchased a new iPhone 5 or any other smartphone in the past 30 days and you want to stop Verizon from sharing your usage data with advertisers and other companies, simply visit the privacy management page on the carrier’s account management site and select “Don’t Share” for each option that is presented.
AT&T has a similar opt-out policy, but the carrier does not appear to require users to opt out within 30 days of a new activation. AT&T also doesn’t sell the data it collects to outside companies, but instead uses it to “offer you products and services, packages, discounts and promotions from the AT&T companies, such as High Speed DSL Internet access, wireless service and U-verse TV services, which may be different from the types of services you already purchase.”
AT&T customers can still restrict the ways this data is used by visiting this page.