Warning to Verizon cuss-tomers

In about 30 days, Verizon will begin selling your calling records to marketing companies, unless you call their opt-out number. (Yeah, this does sound like some kind of bad chain letter, except not.) This information (CPNI, or customer proprietary network information) includes the numbers you call, how long, how often, and how much it cost you.

In a letter supposedly being sent to Verizon customers (I didn’t receive one… at least, not yet – I had to read it on Slashdot), customers are told to dial 1-800-333-9956 and follow the prompts to opt-out. (I just did it; an automated voice welcomes you to the Verizon CPNI opt-out center, asks for your number, billing zip code and the last 4 digits of your SSN, then yet another confirmation to opt-out (apparently picking up the phone and dialing the OPT-OUT NUMBER still leaves your desire rather ambiguous).) Luckily* you don’t actually have to jaw with a live human.

The Skydeck blog digs deeper into the privacy notice, noting at the bottom of Page 8 dealing with sharing CPNI with ‘affiliates’ to deliver targeted advertising right on the phone as you use it. The mailing seems to suggest that the only way to “opt out” of this is to not use the phone. Verizon’s defense? That they’re not actually violating the law. “[Verizon] Spokesman Jeffrey Nelson insisted the new policy adheres to the FCC’s rules, but declined to address specifics.”

Call records (you know, those things people get in a tizzy about Uncle Sam having a look at) are not something one should have to take specific action to “opt out” of every Tom, Dick and Harry willing to pay a nickel having access to. If I wasn’t stuck in a 2-year contract, I’d consider opting-out of Verizon too.

* for me and for the human.

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