Verizon’s $1.35M “Supercookie” Settlement Marks Latest Open Internet Enforcement Action

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Verizon Wireless (Verizon) has agreed to a Consent Decree to settle an investigation of alleged violations of the FCC’s Open Internet Transparency Rule and Section 222 of the Communications Act.  The FCC specifically accused Verizon of inserting unique identifier headers (known as “supercookies” or UIDH) into customers’ mobile Internet traffic without customer knowledge or consent.  Verizon then would associate UIDH with customer proprietary information to build profiles for targeted advertisement use.  The FCC also found that at least one of Verizon’s advertising partners used UIDH for unauthorized purposes to circumvent customer privacy choices by restoring deleted cookies.  The FCC’s Transparency Rule requires broadband providers to publicly disclose certain information about their broadband service, and Section 222 requires all common carriers to protect customer propriety information and restrict use of such information only for authorized purposes.  Pursuant to the Consent Decree, Verizon will pay a $1.35 million fine and implement a 3-year compliance plan.  This is the second FCC action to enforce its Open Internet rules, following last year’s $100 million fine against AT&T for Transparency Rule violations relating to the company’s “unlimited” mobile data plans.

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