AT&T Chicago store (interior 001)

AT&T told the Associated Press on Friday that it is no longer using permanent cookies to track its subscribers. In late October, security researchers discovered that the carrier, along with its competitor Verizon, were using unique identifying numbers or “perma-cookies” to track their customers online habits.

A spokesperson for AT&T said that the tracking practice was part of a pilot program to improve targeted marketing called “Relevant Advertising.” But it says that the experiment is over, and it has pulled the identifying numbers from their customers’ accounts, although it may still sell the data it’s collected.

Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Debra Lewis told the AP that “as with any program, we’re constantly evaluating, and this is no different,” indicating that it is still tracking customers. She adds that business and government customers are not being tracked, and customers can opt out of the program at anytime.

User privacy on the Internet has become a hot button issue in both politics and technology in recent years. Following Edward Snowden’s leak of the PRISM program slides, several reports have come out regarding the unlawful tracking of users—including one this week on DOJ-run, aircraft-mounted spy boxes.

Verizon customers are able to disable to opt-out of the tracking service using a form on its website, but that won’t stop their identifying code from being inserted in the URL of websites they visit. Users who want to check to see if they are being tracked by their carrier can visit this website from their mobile device.

[Associated Press]

  • Chris

    An opt-out service wouldn’t be required if they used practical marketing techniques instead of invading the privacy of those whom pay for the service, in Australia we have strict laws that forbid our ISP’s from even attempting something such as this.

  • Bugs Bunnay

    any company will say anything just to get you off their ass. sad part is some of us believe their bs.

  • Antzboogie

    Happy they made this move betraying their customers this way is crazy!!

  • Rick Bradshaw

    But nevertheless it will be cool if we’re able to transfer around purchases from one OS to the next. But do not actually see that working unless equally organizations got together with a how allow that. Fat opportunity of this occurring though.