Verizon emailed customers about a new program called “Custom Experience,” which is the company’s excuse to collect all kinds of data on you to help it provide more relevant information. That’s all well and good, but the program is opt-out, which means you’re enrolled by default.
Input first spotted a Verizon email about the program, and basically, it’s the company telling customers that they’re enrolled in the carrier’s “Custom Experience.” This means Verizon uses all kinds of information about you, including websites you visit and apps you use.
On its FAQ page Verizon says, “Custom Experience uses information about the websites you visit and the apps you use on your mobile device to help us determine your interests, such as ‘sports lover’ or ‘outdoor enthusiast.'”
Don’t worry, though, because the company says, “We make efforts to eliminate the use of websites that may be sensitive in nature; for example, we employ filters that are designed to exclude websites related to adult content, health conditions, sexual orientation, and others.”
How nice of Verizon to “make efforts” to avoid websites you might not want the company to know about. Of course, making an effort means that the firm could fail and see every website you visit, including sensitive ones.
There’s also “Custom Experience Plus,” which gives Verizon even more access. Verizon says this adds “Device location information we obtain from the Verizon network and from Verizon apps you have permitted to collect location for these purposes, information about your Verizon Fios services and customer Proprietary Network Information.”
Verizon does say that it doesn’t sell the information to third-party advertisers. Instead, the information is for Verizon’s purposes only. “We do not share information that identifies you outside of Verizon as part of these programs other than with service providers who work for us. These service providers are required to use the information only for the purposes Verizon defines and not for their own or others’ marketing or advertising purposes,” the FAQ reads.
A version of this program has been around for some time, as Verizon offered something called “Verizon Selects,” which captured much of the same data but had third-party ads. “Verizon Custom Experience Plus is the new name of our Verizon Selects program. The FAQs below describe that the Custom Experience Plus uses the same information as Selects, but no longer supports third-party advertising,” the company’s website says.
The biggest issue with this program is that it’s opt-out. If you’re on Verizon, you’re enrolled in “Custom Experience” by default. “You will be part of the Custom Experience program unless you opt-out. You can opt-out using the privacy preferences page on the My Verizon site or the privacy setting page within the My Verizon app,” says Verizon.
It’s easy to opt out through the Verizon app, but that doesn’t mean making it opt-out is okay. Log in with your account and uncheck the boxes next to “Custom Experience” and “Custom Experience Plus” to keep Verizon from seeing just about everything you do with your phone.
We highly recommend you opt out, as there’s no reason you’d want your wireless carrier to see this much about what you’re doing.