Verizon Wireless and the FCC agreed on a settlement today on the company’s use of “supercookies” in customers’ mobile Internet use. The supercookies, also known as Unique Identifier Headers or UIDH, enable Verizon to identify customers and deliver targeted advertising programs to them. These UIDH were inserted without customer knowledge.
As part of the settlement, Verizon is notifying consumers about its targeted advertising programs and must obtain customers’ opt-in consent before sharing UIDH with third parties or within Verizon itself. Verizon must also pay a fine of $1.35 million and adopt a three-year compliance plan.
“Consumers care about privacy and should have a say in how their personal information is used, especially when it comes to who knows what they’re doing online,” said FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc.
The investigation into Verizon’s use of the UIDH and protection of consumer information began in December 2014. Though Verizon argued that the UIDH information was not being used in a way that could violate customer privacy, a 2015 news report found that a Verizon advertising partner was using the UIDH improperly.
This is the second Open Internet enforcement the FCC has implemented, as the agency proposed a fine against At&T in 2015 for misleading consumers about unlimited data plans.