Verizon announced its new Smart Rewards program this week that provides consumers with the opportunity to accrue points in a credit card-style program that offers discounts for dining, shopping and travel. Signing on to the Verizon site, paying bills online and participating in the trade-in program lead to earning points. However, participants also have to sign up for Verizon Selects, which collects location, Web browsing and mobile app usage data for marketing purposes.
“That data is used in Verizon’s ‘Precision Market Insights’ business, which combines information on phone activity with demographic data to generate reports for marketers,” reports CNN Money. “Verizon emphasizes that the data it collects is anonymized before it’s shared with third parties.”
In the interest of promoting transparency, some privacy advocates have pushed for rewarding consumers when collecting their personal data.
Companies such as Google and Facebook regularly track user behavior online. Meanwhile, privacy policies of carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile indicate they have the right to collect info such as location data for advertising purposes.
“In the increasingly Internet and mobile data driven society we live in today, there are times we all share personal information with others in exchange for something that benefits us,” suggests Verizon.
In related news, Verizon Communications reported a significant boost in subscribers for its second quarter, thanks in part to customers purchasing tablets.
“The company said it added more than 1.4 million of the lucrative ‘postpaid’ customers, 80 percent of which were tablets,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The strong additions coupled with the recent acquisition of Verizon Wireless resulted in an 88 percent surge in profit compared with the same quarter last year.”
“While tablets bring in less revenue than smartphones, Verizon chief financial officer Fran Shammo said customers who buy them tend to spend more on data packages and are less likely to switch to another carrier. The company also tends to spend less subsidizing their cost, he said.”