- The Verizon app may collect your browsing history, location, apps used, and calls, all in the name of better user experience.
- The app's user privacy breach is hidden under the Verizon "Custom Experience" option.
- Verizon claims users opted-in for data collection and that it will not sell or use the gathered information.
Verizon announced some significant user privacy changes veiled under a standard easy-to-miss email sent to customers that presented a new program titled Verizon Custom Experience. This new feature claims to provide a tailored experience for users but asks for access to all the visited websites and used apps, as well as access to call duration and texts in return. However, some users report finding this new feature toggled on without approval.
The telco giant says that the purpose of this change is to "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." Also, the Verizon Up rewards program can offer you music-related rewards if the company knows you enjoy music, so it can present you with offers that include music content.
Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus are the two options available in the application, and each has varying degrees of invasive nature. According to Verizon's app, the Personalized Experience option streamlines Personalized Experience Plus and uses "internet browsing and app use data" to build a personalized relationship with you. In addition to an FAQ page on its website, Verizon provides additional information regarding settings within its app.
The company explicitly states on its website that you "must opt-in to participate, and you can change your choice at any time," but that doesn't seem to be the case. Fortunately, this invasive privacy setting can be easily undone.
When you open your My Verizon app, you can cancel the personalized experience entirely by tapping the gear icon in the upper-right corner. "Manage privacy settings" can be found in the "Preferences" section. Select "Custom Experience" and "Custom Experience Plus" on the next page. If you want your Verizon information wiped, tap "Personalized Experience Settings" and hit "Reset."
Verizon says that it won't sell your information to advertisers and will utilize it only for Verizon purposes, but that's a mystery either way. This is not a new practice for companies, as just this October, Australia’s Information Commissioner conducted an investigation on multinational convenience store giant 7-Eleven for collecting sensitive information without people's consent.