Ask before you sell my information.

I’m sure when most people signed up for mobile phone service, they didn’t expect that the providers would be tracking where they went when web browsing, and then selling that information:

When a Verizon Wireless customer navigates to a website on her smartphone today, information about that website, her location and her demographic background may end up as a data point in a product called Precision Market Insights. The product, which Verizon launched in October 2012 after trial runs, offers businesses like malls, stadiums and billboard owners statistics about the activities and backgrounds of cellphone users in particular locations.

It’s one thing when a free service like Google uses my information; in that case I am the product, and I exchange information for the value of the service. But when I pay a company like Verizon for a service, they should be barred from doing anything with my information unless I am informed and possibly compensated.

When we agree to allow a company to use our “information” I’m certain most people think that only includes name, address, and phone number type stuff. But these days that information extends to anything that might pass through their pipes.

Companies should be forced by law to enumerate the information they plan to use, and how they plan to use it, and allow customers to agree, disagree, or opt out later.

It should be my information, first and foremost, not theirs.

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