AT&T Inc announced that it will no longer be tracking data transmitted from its users’ smartphones, safeguarding privacy and improving customer trust.
The company said that data tracking made is almost impossible to protect its subscribers’ identities online.
The tracking codes, a combination of alphabets and numbers, that the carrier placed on its phones were part of a plan to keep tabs on users and their devices, revealing browsing habits – very useful information for advertisers.
Verizon Wireless, which is America’s largest mobile carrier, said that it continues to use this type of data tracking, known as “super cookies.” Cookies are very small tracking devices with pieces of data that are sent from a website’s server to your browser and deposited in your computer, tablet or smartphone.
Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, a senior staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization against the practice, told the Associated Press:
“This is more like a license plate for your brain,”
“Everything you wonder about, and read, and ask the Internet about gets this header attached to it. And there are ad agencies out there that try to associate that browsing history with anything that identifies you.”
Emily Edmonds, an AT&T spokesperson, said:
“If and when we start a mobile Relevant Advertising program, customers will be able to opt out of receiving mobile Relevant Advertising, and also be able to choose not to have the associated numeric code inserted on their device.”
Public interest in privacy and digital anonymity has grown in the past couple of years after former National Security Agency analyst, Edward Snowden, revealed that the NSA was collecting phone records and digital communications of millions of citizens.
Database marketing, in which companies build up a database that allows them to identify customers and then build a relationship with them, is a rapidly growing business.