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
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2009 @ 7:40am

    Re: Legalese & Spam

    While I can appreciate that telemarketing calls can be annoying and disruptive, I have a problem with harassing the operators back. The people on the phones aren't the ones you should be angry with, they're just working stiff like the rest of us. The do a job so that they can pay the rent and buy groceries, and everytime you're able to smugly hang up having 'won' the counter-harrassment game, you've ruined the day of a regular person.

    It's the CEOs and directors of such companies that you should have a problem with, and harrassing their employees won't ever touch them. The telemarketter is just doing their job when they press you to sign up for more services -- when you harrass them back, you're just being an ass.

    Politely say 'I'm not interested,' and hang up. If you want to make a fuss, make a fuss to someone who matters and can fix it.

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