FCC fines Verizon $1.35m over failure to disclose its ‘super cookie’ trackers to customers

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled that Verizon failed to disclose to consumers that it was tracking their web traffic using Unique Identifier Headers (UIDH) – otherwise known as the ‘super cookie’.

Back in October, Verizon combined its controversial mobile tracking ‘super cookies’ with the extensive AOL ad network, following its acquisition the media giant for $4.4bn in May.

The so-called ‘super-cookies’ deliver targeted adverts to mobiles, and unlike traditional cookies, cannot be deleted by users. Mobile web browsers are instead identified by device - and have been accused by some groups of violating customers’ privacy - although Verizon customers can opt out of the tracking by directly contacting the company.

Concluding the FCC investigation into Verizon’s supercookies, which started December 2014, the company has been hit with a $1.35m fine.

Furthermore, it agreed to a three-year consent decree meaning it will require customers to agree to the tracking before it commences.

The data of over 100m customers was tracked, without consent, between 2012 until 2014, breaching a 2010 regulation on web transparency.

Verizon spokesperson Rich Young told The Drum: “Verizon gives customers choices about how we use their data, and we work hard to provide customers with clear, complete information to help them make decisions about our services. Over the past year, we have made several changes to our advertising programs that have provided consumers with even more options.

"Today’s settlement with the FCC recognizes that. We will continue to give customers the information they need to decide what programs and services are right for them.”

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