Like the Eye of Sauron watching over the lands of Middle-earth, Wednesday Verizon Wireless announced that it is now tracking the location of subscriber devices, recording search terms and websites they visit via the wireless network, and recording their app and device feature usage. This information will supposedly be used to make mobile ads more relevant to subscribers, and to be used for "certain business and marketing reports."
"We will combine Mobile Usage Information and Consumer Information in a way that does not personally identify you," the company claims. "We will use this information to prepare business and marketing reports that we may use ourselves or share with others. We may also share Location Information with other companies in a way that does not personally identify you. We will allow these companies to produce limited business and marketing reports."
As the Huffington Post points out, FCC rules on mobile privacy assert that wireless carriers must get permission from customers first if they want to use subscriber information for marketing purposes unless it's for "enhancements to services you already use." The LA Times also reports that every wireless carrier stores these types of data anyway although they all have different approaches to how the data is used or not used.
Just recently General Motors-owned OnStar came under fire for changing its Terms & Conditions. The changes granted it the right to keep a connection to an installed system active even if the subscription had been canceled. The changes also meant that OnStar could collect data including a vehicle's whereabouts and current speed, and sell/offer the information to law enforcement, credit card processors and more. However after a thorough lashing by consumers and government officials, OnStar reverted back to its original Terms & Conditions.