Customer data is one of the most highly-priced commodities in the world of Internet and like Google and Facebook, now Verizon is in the race to procure data of its customers and in return is awarding rewards for the same — but are the rewards really worth your privacy?
Verizon is trying to build a digital advertising business under its Oath banner — an entity created after the company acquired AOL and Yahoo — and is offering its wireless subscribers rewards under Verizon Up program.
The Verizon subscribers who opt-in to the program will get credits that they can use to get phone upgrades, sports gear, Apple Music, book Uber rides, concert and movie tickets, and much more.
But in return for these rewards, the company is seeking a customer’s web browsing history, app usage, and location data, which the company claims will be used towards personalizing the advertising experience for the customers.
Verizon Wants Advertiser’s Moolah
Although this isn’t really necessary, as the Trump administration repealed the stringent privacy laws that prevented telecom operators from using customer data for their own personal gains, Verizon still wants its customers to opt-in to its advertising program called Verizon Selects.
Maybe the opt-in is being made available to avoid any possible backlash from privacy advocates as they’re disclosing the data tracking up-front.
Verizon is hoping that by doing this they’ll be able to strengthen their advertising network as it’ll be easier to deliver tailor-made ads to customers based on their browsing habits even in real-time and this will help in swaying advertisers towards investing in their network.
According to eMarketer, Verizon accounts for 4 percent of the US digital advertising market this year, which hardly rivals figures of Google and Facebook at 41 and 20 percent. With the Verizon Up program, Verizon is looking to expand its reach in the advertising market.
How Does the Verizon Up Program Work?
Every time a person subscribed to the Verizon Up plan spends $300 on their Verizon bill, they receive a credit, which can then be used to avail one of the aforementioned offers including movie or concert tickets and free Uber rides.
During the sign-up itself, Verizon specifies the customer data it’s going to be accessing which includes their web-surfing history, interests, apps that they use including the features used in those apps, location and demographic.
But Are These Rewards Worth Your Privacy?
Coming to think of it, the more we intertwine our lives with the current tech available, which apparently is ‘only’ trying to make our lives easier, the more data we are giving out.
But the real question is are you ok with someone — be it your telecom provider or a search giant like Google or favorite social media network like Facebook — to know so much about your life?
This issue of privacy which stems from companies mining data to send tailor-made ads to users doesn’t really seem to bother most of the people who live with a pre-formed notion that mostly reads ‘I haven’t done anything wrong, why should I be bothered by someone looking into my life?’
But by those standards, you don’t really need to hide anything then. In all likeliness, you won’t even have an issue if asked to live in a glass-walled house with people peeking in to satisfy their curiosity as to what’s going in your life — and yes, you’ll be handsomely rewarded for this too. Sounds viable enough?
Yes? Well, nothing can stop you from being a part of Verizon’s drive to make people voluntarily give up their online privacy. But if you’re not ready for the glass-wall treatment then you’re right to feel there is something fishy with Verizon Select.
‘But the Ads are Relevant and That Helps. Not Really!
Well, getting relevant ads served isn’t a bad thing now, is it? Not really, except the fact that your ISP will probably be building a profile of sorts on you to target these ads.
If the aforementioned things don’t convince you that this is bad, maybe knowing that this is nothing short of spying will.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, even if you opt-out of Verizon’s data-sharing program they can keep your data for three years.