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AT&T stops using perma-cookies for tracking users


AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) announced on Friday that would no longer use perma-cookies used to track data transmitted from users smartphones. The perma-cookies use unique tracking ID’s to track user activity and locations and is used by advertisers.att-logo-emblem

In October AT&T admitted that it was testing out the tracking ID’s for a year after Verizon revealed that it was using similar perma-cookies. The hidden string of letters that cannot be cleared by the user will now be removed. However, Verizon on Friday claimed that it still continues to use the “super cookies” but said it is not inserted for business and government customers. Sprint and T-Mobile does not use these type of tracking IDs, but did not mention if it will follow the same move of AT&T.

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“As with any program, we are constantly evaluating and this is no different,” said Verizon spokeswoman Debra Lewis.

Lewis added that consumers can request for opting out of advertising, but the codes are still used for marketing purposes. The data sent to advertisers is compiled from random digits that forms into a unique digital fingerprint. The data might not contain personal information, but can include numbers and addresses if the user submits them voluntarily. Currently, AT&T users are happy with the move by the company while other carrier subscribers are yet to provide similar decisions.

AT&T claimed that these cookies were a part of a testing project and were phased out. The perma-cookies are the latest methods used by advertisers to target users based on location and ads while there are concerns about the misuse of information. Verizon faced a fine of $7.4 million for not notifying users that the information sent to advertisers can be opted out. The company blamed technical glitches and “oversight” and promised stronger user privacy policies in the future.

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