Verizon's Claims That Its Info-Sharing Plans Are Harmless Ring Hollow

from the that-which-is-made-not-immediately-full-of-clarity dept

Over the weekend, David Weinberger, one of the co-authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto wrote that he'd gotten a 45-page pamphlet of legalese from Verizon Wireless saying he could opt out of letting the company share "Customer Proprietary Network Information" with other groups. The rather broadly worded statement, which said the company could give info like call records to "affiliates, agents and parent companies," kicked up some fuss online. GigaOM says that this is the same issue that popped up in late 2007, when Verizon sent a similar notice to its customers. Verizon's PR bloggers say that now, just like in 2007, there's nothing to worry about -- in fact, the PR person went so far as to merely cut and paste his comments on the issue from two years ago. He says that Verizon won't sell customer's info to third parties; it just needs their consent to share it among the Verizon group of companies so it can offer people bundled services.

Given the way the company is communicating the issue -- a bill insert few people will likely pay attention to, written in a format that's pretty difficult, if not impossible, for most average people to divine any real meaning from -- it's hard to accept the explanation at face value. This is representative of the lack of transparency telcos and ISPs often take on privacy issues. Instead of clearly explaining themselves and what they're doing with customer data, they shroud their efforts in secrecy and legalese, then just say "there's nothing to worry about, just move along." If there really is nothing to worry about, why can't they do a better job of making that clear to the public? Their method of communication, and the way they explain themselves, simply increases consumers' skepticism and makes it look like they've got something to hide. In addition, making the system opt-out, rather than opt-in, doesn't help either.
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Filed Under: cpni, information sharing, pr
Companies: verizon


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  1. identicon
    thomas, 9 Mar 2009 @ 4:19pm

    Always assume they will sell everything.

    One should always assume that Verizon and others will sell any information they can gather about you to third parties. It does not matter if it's "verizon group of companies" (what the heck is that anyway?) or total unrelated; if they can gather and get paid for it then they will sell it. I get numerous annoying calls from Verizon 'affiliates' and they keep calling even when I ask them not to. Ditto from Verizon - they call every week trying to sell more services, even though I beg them to stop. Since they have a business relationship with me, they maintain they can call as often as they like to offer new services and the 'do not call' list doesn't mean anything to Verizon customers. They maintain that since I have a business relationship with them there is no reason whatsoever for them not to call me as often as they want. I often wonder how many junk calls and junk mail I get as a direct result of Verizon selling my info.

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