Within days of Congress repealing online privacy protections, the No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier Verizon has announced new plans to install software on customers' devices to track what apps customers have downloaded.
With this spyware, Verizon will be able to sell ads to you across the Internet based on things like which bank you use and whether you've downloaded an app.
Verizon will use "AppFlash" - an app launcher and web search utility that Verizon will be rolling out to their subscribers' Android devices "in the coming weeks.
"...collect information about your device and your use of the AppFlash services. This information includes your mobile number, device identifiers, device type and operating system, and information about the AppFlash features and services you use and your interactions with them. We also access information about the list of apps you have on your device."
The policy also illustrates Verizon's intent to gather location and contact information:
"AppFlash also collects information about your device's precise location from your device operating system as well as contact information you store on your device."
And of course, Verizon will use all of this information for targeted advertising on third-party websites:
"AppFlash information may be shared within the Verizon family of companies, including companies like AOL who may use it to help provide more relevant advertising within the AppFlash experiences and in other places, including non-Verizon sites, services and devices."
With the announcement of AppFlash, Verizon has made clear that it intends to start monetizing its customers' private data as soon as possible.
Google already collects much of information and blocks privacy-enhancing tools from being distributed through the Play Store. Adding another company that automatically tracks its customers doesn't help matters any.
In addition, with Verizon rolling this app out to such a large number of devices, hackers will be probing it for vulnerabilities, to see if they can use it as a backdoor they can break into.
Online TV service onthe way?
In related news, Verizon Communications has been reportedly buying streaming rights from television network owners ahead of a launch of an online TV service.
Both Reuters and Bloomberg report that Verizon plans to sell a package with dozens of channels this year.
The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Verizon's rival AT&T has an online streaming television service called DirecTV Now, while U.S. satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp in 2015 launched Sling TV, a streaming service.