Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Verizon and AT&T ID’s being used to track users

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Really, Congress should take action—yeah, I know.  In ProPublica Julia Angwin and Jeff Larsen describe what’s happening:

Twitter’s mobile advertising arm enables its clients to use a hidden, undeletable tracking number created by Verizon to track user behavior on smartphones and tablets.

Wired and Forbes reported earlier this week that the two largest cellphone carriers in the United States, Verizon and AT&T, are adding the tracking number to their subscribers’ Internet activity, even when users opt out.

The data can be used by any site – even those with no relationship to the telecoms — to build a dossier about a person’s behavior on mobile devices – including which apps they use, what sites they visit and for how long.

MoPub, acquired by Twitter in 2013, bills itself as the “world’s largest mobile ad exchange.” It uses Verizon’s tag to track and target cellphone users for ads, according toinstructions for software developers posted on its website.

Twitter declined to comment.

AT&T said that its actions are part of a test. Verizon says it doesn’t sell information about the demographics of people who have opted out.

This controversial type of tracking, known in industry jargon as header enrichment, is the latest step in the mobile industry’s quest to track users on their devices. Google has proposed a new standard for Internet services that, among other things, would prevent header enrichment.

People using apps on tablets and smartphones present a challenge for companies that want to track behavior so they can target ads. Unlike on desktop computers, where users tend to connect to sites using a single Web browser that can be easily tracked by “cookies,” users on smartphones and tablets use many different apps that do not share information with each other.

For a while, ad trackers solved this problem by using a number that was build into each smartphone by Apple and Google. But under pressure from privacy critics, both companies took steps to secure these Device IDs, and began allowing their users to delete them, in the same way they could delete cookies in their desktop Web browser.

So the search for a better way to track mobile users continued. In 2010, two European telecom engineers proposed an Internet standard for telecom companies to track their users with a new kind of unique identifier. The proposal was eventually adopted as astandard by an industry group called the Open Mobile Alliance.

Telecoms began racing to find ways to use the new identifier. . .

Continue reading.

A sidebar in the article:

Does Your Phone Company Track You?

CHECK FOR TRACKING CODE Click from your smartphone or tablet (with Wi-Fi turned off) to see if your telecom provider is adding a tracking number. We don’t save any information.

Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2014 at 7:40 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Technology

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