The My Verizon app might be collecting information about your browsing history, location, apps, and your contacts, all in the name of helping the company “understand your interests,” first spotted by Input. The program, which Verizon appears to automatically opt customers into, is called Verizon Custom Experience and lays buried in the privacy settings on the app.
The program introduces two different options that appear in the app, Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus, each of which varies in terms of invasiveness. Verizon provides additional information about both settings within the app, as well as on a FAQ page on its website. It appears that the Custom Experience option is a stripped-down version of Custom Experience Plus, and as Verizon states directly in the app, it helps Verizon “personalize” its “communication with you” and “give you more relevant product and service recommendations” by using “information about websites you visit and apps you use on your mobile device.”
Meanwhile, Custom Experience Plus has the same purpose — to help Verizon provide you with a more “personalized” experience. However, it not only uses information about the websites and apps you use on your mobile device, but it also says it uses your “device location,” along with “phone numbers you call or that call you” to help Verizon “better understand your interests.” This also includes your CPNI, which tracks the times and duration of your calls.
As Verizon explains on its site, it might use your information to, say, present you with an offer that includes music content, or give you a music-related option in its Verizon Up reward program if it knows you like music. Verizon explicitly states that you “must opt in to participate and you can change your choice at any time,” but it doesn’t appear that users are getting the chance to opt-in themselves, or perhaps they’re doing so unknowingly.
After checking the privacy settings on my own app, I found that “Custom Experience” and “Custom Experience Plus” were both already toggled on. I don’t recall ever turning either of these features on, or being asked about it. As Andrew Paul of Input notes, he only discovered the feature after mistakenly opening a promotional email from Verizon that describes the new program.
To opt-out of the Custom Experience altogether, open your My Verizon app, and then hit the gear icon in the top-right corner of the screen. Scroll down and select “Manage privacy settings” beneath the “Preferences” heading. On the next page, toggle off “Custom Experience” and “Custom Experience Plus.” To erase the information that Verizon has already collected about you through the program, tap “Custom Experience Settings,” and hit “Reset.” The company says that it won’t sell your information to advertisers and that it will “use it only for Verizon purposes,” but it’s still unnerving either way.
In April, T-Mobile started automatically enrolling users in a program that shares your data with advertisers unless you manually opt-out from your privacy settings. On AT&T’s privacy center, the company says that it collects web and browsing information, along with the apps you use, and that you can manage these settings from AT&T’s site.