Menu
Advertising company Turn will stop using Verizon's mobile tracking ID

Advertising company Turn will stop using Verizon's mobile tracking ID

However, Turn maintained there's nothing wrong with using Verizon's UIDH header to recreate cookies

Online advertising company Turn said Friday it will stop using a controversial tracking method by early next month that aids serving targeted advertisements to Verizon's mobile customers.

Turn was criticized for using a persistent numerical identifier that Verizon attaches to the Internet traffic of its mobile customers to recreate a history of a person's web browsing traffic even if a person has deleted the record.

Verizon uses the number, called a UIDH (Unique Identifier Header), for two advertising programs. But the company has been criticized for labeling Internet traffic because third-parties such as Turn can use it for their own purposes.

Turn's practices were revealed last week in a blog post by computer scientist Jonathan Mayer of Stanford University and by news outlet ProPublica.

Turn uses the UIDH to recreate its own cookie, which is a small data file that records information such as web browsing, even if a person has deleted that file.

The practice -- which has been referred to as a "zombie" cookie -- isn't illegal. But privacy advocates contend users may be unaware that they are still being tracked.

After ProPublica's story, Turn defended its practices, arguing that deleting a cookie isn't a recognized method for opting out of targeted advertising. Instead, it suggested using opt-out methods endorsed by the Network Advertising Initiative and the Digital Advertising Alliance.

However on Friday, Turn's General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer Max Ochoa wrote that due to the concerns, Turn will not use Verizon's UIDH starting in early February.

Ochoa still maintained that Turn's practices complied with self-regulatory guidelines within the online advertising industry. He also claimed there were inaccuracies in Mayer's and ProPublica's pieces.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which criticized both companies last week, called on Turn to stop using Verizon's identifier immediately rather than three weeks from now.

Verizon should also stop tagging mobile web traffic since it "enables any company to use the identifier in similarly abusive ways, some of which may not be visible to users," wrote Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, the EFF's senior staff technologist.

AT&T stopped assigning UIDHs to mobile traffic in November after running tests, according to ProPublica.

It is possible to stop Verizon from tagging mobile traffic. Encrypting all web traffic that comes from a mobile device, such as by using a VPN service or the Tor anonymity network, will prevent Verizon from tampering with it at the carrier level.

Alternatively, users can stop online advertising companies from monitoring browsing activities with special software.

Tools including AdAway, AdBlock, AdBlock Plus and Disconnect Pro will block online trackers that send information back to advertising companies, according to the EFF. The organization published a table of the applications last Thursday.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags advertisingTurnsecurityinternetVerizon Communications

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2015 and 2016 inductees - Darryl Swann, Dave Rosenberg, Gary Bigwood, Keith Watson, Mike Hill and Scott Green - to the inaugural Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed how the channel can collectively work together to benefit New Zealand, the Kiwi skills shortage and the future of the industry. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch
Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Show Comments