By now you’ve undoubtedly heard of Verizon’s “supercookies,” the unstoppable tracking cookies that Verizon uses to track every single unencrypted website you visit on your mobile device, whether you like it or not. After taking a tremendous amount of heat from users and even consumer rights organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Verizon said back in January that it would create a means for users to opt out of its supercookie tracking.
Now, Verizon has finally created three ways for users to opt out of this invasive tracking technique — here’s everything you need to know.
First and foremost, let’s address what these “supercookies” are and why Verizon uses them. This is perhaps best summarized on the FAQ page for Verizon’s Relevant Mobile Advertising (RMA) program.
Here’s the important part:
When you use your mobile device, you often see ads on websites and apps. Using information we have from customers, we help marketers reach audiences with more relevant messaging.
The information we use for this program includes the postal address we have for you and certain consumer information such as your device type and language preference, as well as demographic and interest categories obtained from other companies. This information might include your gender, age range, and interests (i.e. sports fan, frequent diner, or pet owner). In addition, we will use an anonymous, unique identifier we create when you register on our websites. This may allow an advertiser to use information they have about your visits to online websites to deliver marketing messages to mobile devices on our network. We do not share information that identifies you personally outside of Verizon as part of this program.
Some examples of Relevant Mobile Advertising could include: For a local restaurant that wants to advertise only to people who live within 10 miles or for a retailer advertising to people who have visited its website online, we help enable these ads to mobile devices on our network.
The Relevant Mobile Advertising Program uses a unique identifier that is inserted in certain web traffic to deliver ads to your mobile device. This identifier, known as a Unique Identifier Header or UIDH, is also used for other purposes such as authenticating devices on our network. More information about the UIDH can be found here.
The key here is that the UIDH cannot be killed by simply blocking cookies in your mobile browser settings, as is the case with more conventional (and less invasive) web tracking.
But now, you can finally opt out.
Verizon subscribers have three choices when it comes to opting out of the RMA program. First, you can visit this page on Verizon’s website. Simply log in and follow the on-screen instructions to opt out of RMA. A similar opt-out procedure is also available in the My Verizon mobile app.
Finally, subscribers can call Verizon on the phone at 1-866-211-0874 and request to opt out of the Relevant Mobile Advertising program.