Companies & Sectors
Verizon to Pay $1.35 Million to Settle Zombie Cookie Privacy Charges

The settlement is the latest sign that the FCC is stepping up privacy enforcement actions



Verizon agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle Federal Communications Commission charges that it violated customers' privacy when it used a hidden undeletable number to track cellphone users.

In the settlement, Verizon also agreed to make its unkillable "zombie" cookie opt-in, meaning that users are not tracked by default. Previously, users had been tracked by default unless they opted out.


However, the settlement does not apply to Verizon's tracking of its customers who visit the 40 percent of websites that use AOL's ad network. That is because Verizon owns AOL, and therefore it is not considered a third party that requires opt-in.


That means that unless Verizon users opt out, they can still be identified when they use their smartphone or tablet to browse Web pages containing AOL's tracking code.


The Verizon controversy dates back to the fall of 2014, when a flurry of news outlets, including Wired and ProPublica, reported that Verizon and AT&T were attaching tracking numbers to their subscribers' Internet activity, even when users opted out.


The tracking numbers could be used by websites to build a dossier about a person's behavior on mobile devices 2014 including which apps they use, what sites they visit and for how long.


Soon after, AT&T stopped using the controversial identifiers. But Verizon said it would keep using them 2014 and assured users on its website that "it is unlikely that sites and ad entities will attempt to build customer profiles" using its identifiers.


In January of 2015, ProPublica reported that an online advertising company was doing just what Verizon had promised wouldn't happen. A company called Turn was using Verizon's identifier to respawn tracking cookies that users had deleted. ProPublica dubbed the unkillable identifier a "zombie cookie."


Two days later, Turn said it would stop using the zombie cookie. And a few weeks later, Verizon also reversed course, and said users could now kill the previously unkillable cookie - but users still had to go in and fiddle with their privacy settings.


In October, Verizon said it would give the zombie cookie a new life as a way to boost the tracking abilities of its AOL subsidiary.


The new settlement is the latest sign that the FCC is stepping up privacy enforcement actions. The FCC chairman has said that the agency will soon propose new privacy rules for Internet providers.


In the Verizon case, the agency alleged that the company's actions violated the privacy protections of the Communications Act. It also said Verizon violated the commission's Open Internet rules, which requires telecommunications carriers to be transparent about the use of their customer's proprietary information, and to only use to provide services.


Verizon spokeswoman Adria Tomaszewski said that the FCC order would not change the company's current practices because it had already stopped using the super-cookie in all cases except sharing with its AOL network.


"Over the past year, we have made several changes to our advertising programs that have provided consumers with even more options," Tomaszewski said. "Today's settlement with the FCC recognizes that."


ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.







Concern expressed over India's hydro-power plans
Kolkata : India's water management issues have pushed the country to the top among 11 nations on the Environmental Justice Atlas, an interactive portal conceived by an international team that maps ecological conflicts, resistances and environmental injustices.
The team has expressed concern over India's plans on hydro-power generation in Himachal Pradesh and northeast.
With over 200 reported conflicts, India tops the EJAtlas, put together by the EJOLT project 'Environmental Justice, Liabilities and Trade'.
It is a work in progress to represent a global distribution map of cases of people's resistance against climate change and environment degradation, mostly in developing nations.
In the atlas, India is tailed by Colombia and Nigeria, according to a recent Current Science article which also brings the spotlight on water woes responsible for the bulk of the conflicts in India.
"The main causes for this (poor water management) are industrial waste, excessive extraction of groundwater, pollution (rapid industrialisation, urbanisation, poor farming and irrigation practices), hydropower, and poor sanitation," Daniela del Bene, doctoral candidate, ICTA - Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, and one of the core team members of the project, told IANS.
Besides del Bene, Leah Temper (co-ordinator) and Joan Martinez-Alier (scientific coordinator) are the other project members. In India, the collaborators include Swapan Kumar Patra and V. Kishna from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
In collaboration with the local environmental research collective Himdhara, the team has also prepared a featured map for Himachal Pradesh, to highlight key issues of environmental justice in the state.
"Many of such conflicts relate to hydropower generation. Himachal Pradesh is said to be the 'Green State' of India. While it is laudable to go green by avoiding dirty or very risky sources of energy like coal or nuclear, we have to ask how much is then desirable to produce, for what and whom, and under which conditions," del Bene said.
She said with hundreds of new projects coming up in the state the situation was "alarming."
"According to available data, it was estimated that 70 percent of the Sutlej river will be diverted for hydropower purposes. In the case of Nathpa Jhakri Hydro project, the communities claimed that about 128 water sources would be affected due to the blasting and excavation activities inside the mountains. But the cumulative EIA put aside the issue by stating that 'no document was provided to substantiate the claims'," del Bene said.
She said The same EIA, then, overlooked the impacts of already existing hydropower plants.
"How can you claim you are dealing with impact assessment with scientific rigour if you don't take into account massive cracks in the houses, water sources drying up, muck deposits, floods and correlation with seismic activity," she asked.
On the situation in northeast India, del Bene said hydropower potential of the Himalayan region is assessed to be more than 63,000,MW, of which only 3 percent has been harnessed so far.
She warns impacts are likely to be very worrying.
Del Bene and the EJOLT project associates underline the necessity of consultations with locals.
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.



Raja Laks

8 months ago

Another issue - None of the Indian dams has de-silting facility. Over a time they are bound to fail.

ED slaps Mallya with money-laundering case
New Delhi/Mumbai : The Enforcement Director (ED) on Monday registered a money-laundering case against founder of now defunct Kingfisher Airlines and liquor baron Vijay Mallya, official sources said.
"We have filed a case against Mallya on Monday. The case is specifically based on the case registered by the CBI against him and others in 2015," Assistant Director (Enforcement Directorate) A.K. Rawal told IANS in New Delhi.
The businessman and the top executives of what was once Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) have been booked under Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Rawal said.
The measure follows an audit of the Rs.7,200 crore loan that a consortium of 11 public sector banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) had extended to the KFA which the airline failed to repay. 
The KFA is alleged to have diverted as much as Rs.4,000 crore of that money to international tax havens like Mauritius and Cayman Islands.
Other businesses of Mallya were also being scrutinized by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, an official, requesting anonymity, told IANS in Mumbai.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Anil Sinha had expressed dismay last week in Mumbai over the laxity of the lending banks and regulatory agencies in taking action against Mallya, other KFA directors and officials.
It is feared that Mallya might become a fugitive from law by shifting base to a country where it might be difficult to make him face the law, officials said. The flamboyant businessman recently announced his plans to spend more time in England.
He has denied all charges against him and taken exception to being labelled a "wilful defaulter" by lenders. He has also denied he was planning to flee the country and said he was ready to cooperate with the lenders to settle the debt.
Last month, Mallya agreed to quit as chairman of United Spirits Ltd. in return for a settlement by the British alcoholic beverages giant Diageo. 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.




7 months ago

Vijay Mallya is not the only fraudster who has duped PSBs. only yesterday CBI raided Syndicate Bank branches for frauds over Rs 1,000 crores which happened with collusion of bank officials as the alleged fraud includes the use of fake bills and providing overdraft limits against non-existent life insurance policies

Agyat Vyakti

8 months ago

Off the topic. This is just for awareness.. Qnet and MLM are using friends and relatives to dupe you... You may like to read Qnet modus operandi with screen shots and facts and how to avoid them here ... Please share for public interest.. Qnet Scam in India

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.

To continue

Sign Up or Sign In


To continue

Sign Up or Sign In



The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)