We’re all painfully aware of how much data the services that we use collect from us on a daily basis. Your email provider, phone carrier, ISP — they’re all collecting and selling your data. There’s not often much that we can do about it, but whenever there is, it’s never a bad idea to take action. For example, Verizon recently started sending emails out to customers about its new Custom Experience programs. These programs allow Verizon to track device location information, the numbers you call, and more. Even worse, Verizon is automatically enrolling customers into the tracking programs.
The good news is that opting out of the Verizon Custom Experience programs is relatively easy.
How to opt out of Verizon’s tracking programs
As noted by Input, you won’t have to work too hard to remove yourself from the Custom Experience. Log in to your account, head to the privacy settings. From here, you should see an option to opt in or out of Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus. Just make sure to select “Don’t Use” for both programs. Unless, for some reason, you actually do want to stay enrolled.
As one user points out in a Reddit thread, you can also block future enrollment in the two programs. Select “Manage Settings” under either program and then click “Block Enrollment” wherever you see it. In theory, this will ensure Verizon doesn’t quietly add you back in at some point.
What are Verizon’s Custom Experience programs?
According to Verizon, Custom Experience programs help the carrier tailor content to your interests. For a more detailed explanation, here’s what Verizon says on its website:
Your participation in our Custom Experience programs helps us personalize our communications with you, give you more relevant product and service recommendations, and develop plans, services, and offers that are more appealing to you. For example, if we think you like music, we could present you with a Verizon offer that includes music content or provide you with a choice related to a concert in our Verizon Up reward program. You get the most personalized content and marketing when you opt-in to Custom Experience Plus because it allows us to use a broader range of information to better understand your interests. We do not sell information we use in these programs to others for them to use for their own advertising.
What data is Verizon collecting?
Here’s everything Verizon collects under Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus:
- Information about the websites you visit
- Information the apps you use on your mobile device
- Device location information from the Verizon network and from Verizon apps you have permitted to collect location for these purposes
- Information about your Verizon Fios services
- Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI), including information about the phone numbers you call or that call you and the times you receive these calls
Personalized advertising is not all bad. If we have to see ads every day, they might as well at least be relevant to our interests. But it’s certainly not a great reason to give your carrier even more data than it already has. Verizon claims that it doesn’t sell the information that it collects to third parties. That is great news, but Verizon is also one of the largest cell phone companies in the world. How much more data could it need?
UPDATE | 12/3: Verizon no longer owns AOL or Yahoo, as we previously suggested.