August 1, 2018
Verizon debuted a VPN (virtual private network) product, dubbed Safe Wi-Fi, marketed as a security measure for smartphone users who log onto public networks, as well as an ad-blocker. Public Wi-Fi networks can make it easy for advertisers and bad actors to track a user’s IP address, which the VPN will hide from public view. Safe Wi-Fi — available to Verizon customers on Android and iOS devices — is priced at $3.99 per month per account. Safe Wi-Fi can protect up to 10 devices on a single account.
TechCrunch reports that, “Verizon customers can sign into My Verizon and go to the Products & Apps page, scroll to Safe Wi-Fi and then click ‘get it now’ to subscribe.” Verizon customers can alternatively get the Safe Wi-Fi app via the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, following “the onscreen instruction to sign up with a one-month free promotion.”
To block ads, users simply go into the Safe Wi-Fi settings to turn on the “Ad Tracker Blocker.” According to the Verizon FAQ page, “the Ad Tracker Blocker prevents customers from ad network tracking while browsing the Internet, and from ads generated from the device’s downloaded apps,” and “in some cases, ads will be blocked entirely to prevent ad trackers from working.” Instead of the ad, the user will see a gray image on the screen.
The VPN doesn’t entirely mitigate risk, however. TechCrunch reporter Romain Dillet noted that, “the risk just moves down the VPN tunnel” since “the person operating the server can see all unencrypted traffic.” That might result in VPN companies scrutinizing a user’s browsing patterns and selling that information to advertisers.