On November 4, 2011, Congressmen Edward Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton (R-TX) reiterated their privacy concerns over the handling of customer preferences in connection with Verizon’s new advertising initiative. After learning that Verizon had notified its customers of the implications of a targeted advertising campaign, on October 6, 2011, Reps. Markey and Barton, Co-Chairmen of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, wrote a letter containing several inquiries to both Verizon and Verizon Wireless. In particular, Reps. Markey and Barton requested clarification regarding the companies’ potential disclosure of aggregated customer location information and website viewing history to third parties.
Verizon’s response letter, dated October 17, 2011, has been made public; the company stressed that its new programs “do not disclose any personal information about [Verizon and Verizon Wireless] customers.” According to a statement on Rep. Markey’s website, “[t]he responses from the companies provide helpful insight into how Verizon and Verizon Wireless garner consent for and disclose personal consumer information related to their new targeted advertising programs . . . However, we are still concerned that Verizon has required customers to opt-out of this new program rather than opt-in. An opt-in mechanism would allow consumers, not the company, to decide whether to grant permission to use consumer information for targeted advertising purposes, especially in a program focused on geolocation from customer postal addresses.”