The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Consumer]

Oh oh....

Verizon Wireless has been actively implementing its new advertising program called Precision Market Insights (reportedly started in 2012), which tracks web activities of approximately 106 million Verizon customers when they are web surfing from portable devices, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports.

The tracker registers which sites people visit and how much time they spend there, and even what apps they use on their smartphones and how exactly.

This is being done by sending cookies down on your HTTP header responses -- which goes directly to the "stateful packet inspection" that I have written about before.  Wireless companies (and some wireline companies such as cable providers) have been doing this for quite some time.  I noted it a number of years ago when traveling -- I was at a friend's home and my search request, aimed at Google was forcibly intercepted and redirected to their "preferred" search engine!

That was pretty rude.  What I suspected was going on was worse, of course, since if you're looking at packet content for one purpose you might (read: probably are) looking at it for other reasons.

Now we have evidence that this is exactly what is going on.

I checked a couple of non-Verizon points and didn't find anything hinky.  But -- that doesn't mean it isn't happening on a transparent basis external to your machine; it might be, although that sort of sort of stateful processing would be pretty expensive for the carrier to maintain.  If they did it, however, it would also be invisible.

The only real defense against this sort of thing is to use a VPN so that all traffic is encrypted and there is no way for the carrier to know what it is.  A VPN completely masks everything, including the protocol (e.g. IMAP .vs. HTTP .vs. HTTPS, etc.) up to the VPN's access point.  It does nothing beyond that point, and this is important to keep in mind, so for anything external the use of a VPN does not remove the need to use https as opposed to http, but every little bit helps!

I'd love to know where Verizon thinks they get the authority to do this in their terms and conditions, by the way, and why it's not considered a deceptive consumer practice.

But I bet there's something buried in their T&C document that "allows" it -- and I'll further wager that our corrupt, putrid government won't put a stop to it either.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)


Remember this story?

One key capability for a car audio player with external storage (E.g. SD card, USB key, attached USB disk, etc) is remembering where you are when you turn the car off, and resuming playback in the same place.  If you think not doing that is annoying if you're listening to music it completely destroys the value of the unit as a device that can play audio books for you, as one example, as if you have to refuel or take a personal pit stop you lose where you are when you turn the car back on!

The NEX units did this correctly, as do most other car audio units.  In fact there are people threatening to sue Mazda over doing this wrong on their "higher end" stock head units in the "6" (I think that's a nuts reason to sue, but I do see their point....)

Right up until this latest firmware update the NEX did this correctly, I will add -- the update destroyed that capability.  Now all attached storage starts on the first playable filewhenever the car is turned on.

I later updated this post, after much interaction with Pioneer, to note that the unit had sorted itself out -- after a full day of driving.  Pioneer, for its part, claimed the problem could not be reproduced -- despite acknowledging to me on the phone that I was not the only person reporting it.

Well, they just released a 1.08 firmware update.  In the release notes there is no description of what was fixed other than "minor bug fixed and audio related issues", and that the iDatalink Maestro code was added.  However, what I can report (having loaded said firmware) is that now the unit takes a few minutes to scan the SSD drive on the first connection after the firmware is loaded, during which time it will not play anything on the disk, but immediately following that it both re-scans quickly (~20 seconds) on subsequent turn-ons and the resume from where it was previously works properly -- and immediately.

In other words despite the claim that they "couldn't reproduce" the problem I reported they actually fixed it.

There is only one thing I hate more than untested software -- organizations that are less-than-honest about what they know, find and fix.

I'm happy that I can now update my SSD attached USB storage without fear of being unable to have it resume where it leaves off for a full day on the road.

However, I'm also more than a bit*****ed off that Pioneer failed to document that they broke this in 1.06, but fixed it 1.08, and instead maintained to me via email that nothing in fact was broken (in 1.06) at all.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

Main Navigation
Full-Text Search & Archives
Archive Access
Get Adobe Flash player
Legal Disclaimer

The content on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied. All opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and may contain errors or omissions.


The author may have a position in any company or security mentioned herein. Actions you undertake as a consequence of any analysis, opinion or advertisement on this site are your sole responsibility.

Market charts, when present, used with permission of TD Ameritrade/ThinkOrSwim Inc. Neither TD Ameritrade or ThinkOrSwim have reviewed, approved or disapproved any content herein.

The Market Ticker content may be reproduced or excerpted online for non-commercial purposes provided full attribution is given and the original article source is linked to. Please contact Karl Denninger for reprint permission in other media or for commercial use.

Submissions or tips on matters of economic or political interest may be sent "over the transom" to The Editor at any time. To be considered for publication your submission must include full and correct contact information and be related to an economic or political matter of the day. All submissions become the property of The Market Ticker.