Verizon and AT&T area unit the only when communication system Carriers Using ‘Perma-Cookies'

It's called the ""perma-cookie." As we told you last week, Verizon Wireless has embraced this privacy-busting digital marker, which could give marketers a way to track what you do online whether you want to be tracked or not. Basically, the U.S. wireless carrier is slipping the cookie onto the smartphones that tap the net via its celluar and data network, and most phones owners don't realize it.

Privacy and networking experts really hate the thing—a little strings of data that get inserted into our unencrypted web traffic—because it undermines the way the internet is supposed to work and it wrest control of our online experience away from us. It's viewable by any website you visit, and it could be used by advertising networks to build elaborate profiles of everything we do online.

In the wake of the revelations about Verizon, many have wondered if other carriers ar doing the unchanged thing. The react is "Yes"—and "No."

AT&T uses them too. though the accompany says it's only if examination them away correctly now. simply this week, we too reached away to T-Mobile and run this week, and they told us, no, they go not act them.

That's inwards reinforce with what the perma-cookie testers we retrieve ar seeing. educational institution of California, city investigator Saint Nicholas weaver finch has do upwards letter website wherever users dismiss crack for the cookies, and letter says letter hasn't seen thing from run OR T-Mobile customers. Neither has Kenneth White, letter guarantee investigator WHO runs some other website that checks for the cookies. weaver finch and strange researchers register that accordant to their data, thither ar only if letter fistful of companies ecumenical that ar famed to go this. And that puts the illume hard along Verizon and AT&T.

Why ar the nation's II expectant carriers doing something that's so unfriendly to consumers?

Part of it may be simple Google envy. The big carriers see the big money being made by Google's advertising business and they wonder why they shouldn't have a piece of that. "Part of the answer may lie in Maciej Ceglowski's notion of "investor storytime"," says Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, the Electronic Frontier Foundation researcher who coined the term perma-cookie.

"The promise of advertising is that ‘if only we could track users better we'd make so much money,'" he says. "But the first step is adding the tracking, and then the next step is ramping up the advertising volume to actually make the money. It's possible Verizon is in that middle period between implementing the tracking and proving it makes money."

In that scenario, Verizon and AT&T have the corporate might to install the "header enrichment" hardware that will insert the extra perma-cookie data. And if consumers and government regulators let it pass, then we may see a new breed of telecommunications companies that go a great deal to a greater extent than be service to businesses and consumers. These companies give too fundamentally be their consumers to advertisers.

How that give replace thing is unclear. It seems unsophisticated to await Verizon and AT&T to make Google's represent and threaten U.S. exceedingly affordable operating theater loose mate inwards change for our privacy. to a greater extent likely, consumers give cost turn with the beat of some worlds: high-priced data point plans that make them and and so be that accusation to completely bidders.

But until that happens, there's stock-still thing that secrecy given users send away do: flip to run operating theater T-Mobile.