Remember when the world got thrown into a frenzy by Edward Snowden and the reveal that the government was allegedly collecting data from everyone’s phones without permission? Well, it appears that big-time internet, phone, and tech conglomerate, Verizon, is now collecting browsing data from its customers. That is potentially a massive invasion of privacy, considering how they are going about it. Customers that hadn’t junked the email from Verizon were shocked to find out they had voluntarily “opted-in” for a service they didn’t ask for.
This new Customer Experience initiative is called Customer Experience Plus. Basically, this confusing and seemingly roundabout way of rebranding is Verizon’s attempt to offer better service by monitoring the searches their customers engage in. That is a big no-no. One huge way to turn off customers from any service is to automatically opt them into something they don’t understand fully. What is even odder about this situation is that Verizon didn’t give the option for customers to opt-in, only that they could opt-out if needed.
The random emails that explain this confusing and evasive situation seem to portray that the customers are “in control” and can opt out of this data collection service at any point. If that’s the case, why automatically opt everyone in without their consent? This is a dangerous game that Verizon is playing. There are options and steps on how to turn this “voluntary” service off, but the fact that people even have to go that route seems a bit shady on the company’s part.
There are two levels to this confusion, as there is Customer Experience and Customer Experience Plus, which is more invasive. How Verizon thought that collecting browsing data is considered “customer service” is harrowing, to say the least. They are known to be one of the top-rated customer service platforms in the world, but collecting data on their own behalf without say-so might backfire completely. Especially browsing data, which is meant to be completely private. Even worse is they are collecting location data on their network, and turning off location tracking won’t help change things. Metadata from phone calls and who you call is collected as well.
Verizon might find itself sued if they continue this course, and the invasion of privacy is a sure-fire way to make the public panic. Look at the trouble Facebook has gotten itself into in recent years for its odd practices. All calls and browsing data are private, and no company should be allowed to exploit that for their own means. Collecting data for the means of bettering service through crashes and issues is one thing, but collecting data for the sake of collecting data is wrong. Googling how to spell “paragraph” shouldn’t be judged, thank you very much Verizon. There hasn’t been an official statement on this revelation, but expect Verizon to walk back some of these features, or completely remove them. Nothing is worse than feeling like you’re being watched.