AT&T Stops Using Undeletable Phone Tracking IDs

Verizon remains committed to its program of inserting a tracking number into its customers’ cellphone transmissions


AT&T says it has stopped its controversial practice of adding a hidden, undeletable tracking number to its mobile customers' Internet activity.

"It has been phased off our network," said Emily J. Edmonds, an AT&T spokeswoman.

The move comes after AT&T and Verizon received a slew of critical news coverage for inserting tracking numbers into their subscribers' Internet activity, even after users opted out. Last month, ProPublica reported that Twitter's mobile advertising unit was enabling its clients to use the Verizon identifier. The tracking numbers can be used by sites to build a dossier about a person's behavior on mobile devices – including which apps they use, what sites they visit and for how long.

The controversial type of tracking is used to monitor users' behavior on their mobile devices where traditional tracking cookies are not as effective. The way it works is that a telecommunications carrier inserts a uniquely identifying number into all the Web traffic that transmits from a users' phone.

AT&T said it used the tracking numbers as part of a test, which it has now completed.
Edmonds said AT&T may still launch a program to sell data collected by its tracking number, but that if and when it does, "customers will be able to opt out of the ad program and not have the numeric code inserted on their device."

A Verizon spokeswoman says its tracking program is still continuing, but added "as with any program, we're constantly evaluating."

Verizon uses the tracking number to identify the users' behavior and offer advertisers insights about users gleaned from that data. Verizon says the data it sells is not tied to a users' identity. "None of the data that is used in the program is personally-identifiable," the company said when it updated its privacy policy in 2012.

Verizon offers its customers an opportunity to opt out of the program. But opting out doesn't remove the tracking ID.




Indian-origin Kunal Shah becomes one of the youngest partners at Goldman Sachs

Shah, 32, is among the 78 individuals to be promoted as partner, and is one of the five persons of Indian-origin to have made the cut in Goldman Sachs


Kunal Shah, Indian-origin managing director at Goldman Sachs has been promoted to the position of Partner, becoming the youngest to be inducted into the global investment giant’s most coveted club.


The 32-year-old is among the 78 individuals to be promoted to this position, and is one of the five persons of Indian-origin to have made the cut in Goldman Sachs in 2014 class of Partners.


Shah was promoted to managing director at the investment banking giant at the age of 27. The Cambridge University math graduate was also named in Forbes ‘30 under 30’ Finance list in 2011.


He has been a rising star at Goldman since he joined the company in London in 2004, analysing interest rate products, before trading on the global macro desk, according to Forbes.


The other persons of Indian-origin named to GS' elite group are Meena Lakdawala Flynn, Manikandan Natarajan, Umesh Subramanian and Rajesh Venkataramani.


Goldman Sachs Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and President and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn personally called the 78 individuals to inform them of their elevation to the position of Partner, yesterday.


“These appointments recognise some of the firm’s most senior professionals and acknowledge their embodiment of our culture and values, and their leadership of the firm’s business and people,” Blankfein said in a statement. “We look forward to their continued strong performance and leadership in the years ahead.”


Goldman Sachs selects its partners every two years through an extremely secretive and rigorous month-long selection process.


The record for becoming the youngest Goldman Sachs Partner is held by Eric Mindich who was promoted in 1994 at the age of 27.


The 2014 class of Partners includes 11 women, 23 employees from investment banking, 25 from securities, 11 from investment management, four from merchant banking and three from research. They will become Partners of the firm starting 1st January next year.


Goldman now has 467 partners, an elite group that represents about 1.6% of its 33,500-strong workforce.


The position of Partner brings with it some of the biggest Wall Street perks including a lucrative paycheck with salaries of about $900,000 and a portion of the bank’s bonus pool, which is divided up among only the partners.


The partners also have access to special investment opportunities that are not available to other employees.


Goldman had ceased to be a private partnership when it went public in 1999.


But the ritual of selecting partners still remains a core and among the most coveted part of the company’s identity and culture.


HSBC, UBS, RBS, Citi, JP Morgan fined $3.20 billion in the latest international banking scandal

The latest scandal deals with rigging currencies markets, which have a massive daily turnover of $5.3 trillion


The British Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the US' Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) imposed fines totalling $3.16 billion, on five of the world's biggest banks. The banks fined were JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Swiss bank UBS.


CFTC's statement on the fines said, "attempted manipulation of, and for aiding and abetting other banks' attempts to manipulate, global foreign exchange benchmark rates to benefit the positions of certain traders."


Reports suggested that Barclays was expected to join the settlement but dropped out and the regulators were reportedly looking to pursue their investigations into the bank’s role in the latest rigging accusations.


The foreign exchange markets have a daily turnover of about $5.3 trillion. Currencies are much bigger than stocks and bond markets, and in comparison to some of the fines paid by banks for their involvement in the 2008 financial crisis. These latest fines for banks come after similar fines were levied for trans-Atlantic rigging of LIBOR rates by major banks a few months ago.


Criticisms abound that these fines were too small for the scale of operations and effects of the rigging, like most bank fines over the last few years, stemming from wide-ranging malpractices in the worldwide financial markets. A BBC report estimates that 40% of the world's currencies trade goes through London, which was also why the British FCA was the lead on this investigation, with co-operation from American federal agencies.


While the British Chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne said that the fines were part of a long term plan to restore confidence in the financial markets, there is a long way to go before the impression that for the most part, bankers have escaped serious punishment for their misadventures, is dealt with effectively.


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