AT&T: We're not tracking subscribers using unique identifiers anymore
In late October, researchers discovered that AT&T and Verizon attach tracking numbers to the web traffic coming from their customers’ phones, in order to keep an eye on their online habits. Now, Ma Bell says it’s stopped doing so — the company claims it has only experimented using those irremovable trackers (or perma-cookies, as the media calls them) for a pilot program, but now its tests are done. A unique tracker’s composed of a string of letters and numbers that can follow a user across the internet. Websites and carriers can then make a compilation of those activities to sell or give to marketing and advertising companies.
According to company spokesperson Emily J. Edmonds, AT&T has already pulled these unique identifying numbers from their customers’ accounts, though the company might still sell the data it’s collected. If that does happen, Edmonds says AT&T will give its subscribers the choice to opt out. As for Verizon, well, a spokesperson confirms that Big Red is still using perma-cookies. People can choose not to participate in the program (ProPublica discovered last month that Twitter gave its ad clients access to data Verizon collected), but that won’t remove the tracker itself.
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