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Verizon Plans Location Warning Sticker 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the problem-solved-boys-good-work dept.
nonprofiteer writes "After all the location tracking drama, Verizon tells Congress that 'it's going to start slapping a surgeon-general-type warning on the phones it sells: Using this device could be hazardous to your location privacy, and may result in your being tracked!' The actual warning (PDF) is a little drier — illustration with story."
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Verizon Plans Location Warning Sticker

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  • by wsxyz (543068) on Friday April 29, 2011 @01:53PM (#35977126)
    There is no way this is going to put on any iPhone Verizon sells.
    • Hey, can we get that sentence in english?

      Meanwhile, this fits every smartphone carried by verizon, from android to microsoft to apple. surprise?

      • He accidentally the whole word.
      • by wsxyz (543068)
        Do you realize how much pressure one is under when one realizes that the opportunity for a first post is at hand, but that the slightest delay will cruelly dash one's fondest hopes and crush one's sweetest dreams of that elusive, and long desired first post?
  • ... when they do the phone setup. Thus freeing you from ever having to see it.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      When the who does the what? Last Verizon phone I got was factory sealed and required I do the setup.
  • People are lazy and don't care, until it affects them directly. Like those EULAs, no one reads them, even if you might be agreeing to Apple performing biological experiments on you.
    • People are lazy and don't care, until it affects them directly.

      And for the most part, it will never affect most people directly, thus they will ot care.

      It's a bit like the Facebook privacy issue: If they knew, they really wouldn't care. The sad reality is that most people are of the "If you're not doing anything wrong, why do you care if the police have a CCTV in your living room?"

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        "If you're not doing anything wrong, why do you care if the police have a CCTV in your living room?"

        That could be dangerous in Maryland...Sodomy, Fillatio and Adultery are all illegal, though it is only a $5 fine from what I understand.

    • I'm glad Verizon is stepping up, and that this is their idea rather than some random bureaucratic regulation. If, as you say, "People are lazy and don't care," then it's not like a law would do any better than Verizon's warning anyway.
      • Re:It can't hurt (Score:5, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday April 29, 2011 @02:29PM (#35977588)

        If the option is get a phone with this warning or no phone at all, then this is not stepping up. This is then just as useless as not offering the information.

        • by oGMo (379)

          So we assume by "phone" you mean "cell phone" which presumably connects to "cell towers". Since when is this information not already logged and gathered by the telcos running the towers? If you're worried about "location privacy", how about not carrying around a device which broadcasts a unique ID that's collected by third parties?

          Yes, this is already a matter of a either a phone or complete privacy.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Who said complete?

            We are talking about selling location off to advertisers and other scumbags with marketing degrees. Even the phone companies should not be holding that data any longer than needed for billing.

            • Maybe more of us will turn off the phones when not in use. Too bad they take longer than Windows 98 to boot up these days.

              • by tomhudson (43916)

                Too bad they take longer than Windows 98 to boot up these days.

                I suspect Windows 98 would boot up pretty fast on a 2ghz cpu (provided it didn't freak out at the hardware).

                • It might do that. But what could you do? Windows 98 was full of memory leaks, incompatibilities, and ok, some really cool games like the original Duke Nukem.

      • yea, it sure is nice that Verizon is stepping up and getting it out in the open that they keep personal data for 7 years. So Verizon has on record where you were in 2004. Um, yea, thanks for the honesty, i think.
    • by Viewsonic (584922)

      Very little of it has anything to do with people being "lazy". EULAs are so long and convoluted that even most lawyer types still have no idea what they are agreeing to. The same will go for this sticker, people wont have any idea how much tracking information is being given out. Some would take "could be" meaning none, etc.

      This really isn't a solution to the problem. The solution would be to come up with many regulations to slap down on companies since the competition is doing it as well.

      • The solution would be to come up with many regulations

        I'd rather see very few smart regulations that would achieve the same thing without adding so much cost.

    • Like those EULAs, no one reads them, even if you might be agreeing to Apple performing biological experiments on you.

      South Park fan I presume. :-)

    • by antdude (79039)

      Yeah like when they try to do a human centipede method like in South Park season's 15 premiere [southparkstudios.com]. Ew!

  • So the way it works is as long as they post a warning label on it they can do it? Look for: WARNING: We may listen to all your calls, read all your text messages, and beat your highscores on Angry Birds
    • by Desler (1608317)

      You think they can't already listen to your calls and read your text messages if they wanted to? They can have their towers tell your phone to use unencrypted channels and thus snoop everything.

    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      I LOL'ED:
      "6PCS Precision screwdriver set not to be inserted into PENIS"\
      "Do not eat Ipod shuffle" (found on apple's website)
      "If you cannot read (...) warnings, do not use this product"
      "Use care when operating a car (...)" (on a bottle of dog's pills)
      "Do not use for personal hygiene" (on Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush)
      "Do not hold the wrong end of a chainsaw"

      "DO NOT put any person in this washer"
      "We are sorry that our president is an idiot, we did not voted for him" (on an american clothing label, in

      • "We are sorry that our president is an idiot, we did not voted for him" (on an american clothing label, in french)

        This is not from a clothing label unless you consider bags clothing. It's from Tom Bihn. I have a laptop bag with this label on it.

        • Really? You have a laptop bag with slogans calling other people idiots while simultaneously abusing basic french grammar? Is this a hipster thing, where the irony is the point?

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Probably not. Open the PDF yourself and look (it's buried in there, and actual graphic of the label) - it's worded well.

  • For those too lazy to go RTFA, here is the actual text of the warning label:

    "Remove Before Use This device is capable of determining its (and your) physical, geographical location and can associate this location data with other customer information. To limit access to location information by others, refer to the User Guide for Location settings and be cautious when downloading, accessing or using applications and services."

    Dry, but straightforward.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      It should also say that it can note determining its (and by inference your) velocity as well to within legally acceptable accuracy. Then they can call it the Heisenburg Certainty Warning. You could get issued an HC Citation automatically, compounded for the duration of the violation.

  • How long until there is an app that intentionally provides bogus location information to the API, and inserts bogus data into the location history files?
    • by blueg3 (192743)

      Applications don't provide location data to the API, it's the other way around. If you wanted to do that, you'd need a heavily modified, rooted iPhone, at which point you might as well just disable Location Services entirely.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Or you just need to have a modded location service that will submit fake data to the untrusted application. Not sure about iPhones but this would be something nice to have in an android ROM.

        • by gnarfel (1135055)
          There is a jailbroken iPhone app called FakeLocation that does exactly this.
        • by blueg3 (192743)

          I think for the sake of sanity it should always return the same location (e.g., Central Park), but otherwise, yes, that would be great to apply to untrusted apps. You'd still want trusted apps to get real location data so that your phone remains useful (otherwise, don't buy a smartphone), but feeding fake data to people who are just using for "advertising" is a great idea.

  • Was it just me or did TFAs say that it was law for telcos to store location data on everyone for years?

    I realize the systems need to keep track of where you are in a cell network so that they can send you information but what law says this data must be stored in case there is ever a LEA inquery at some point in the future?

  • Instead of putting a warning, can I have a provider that just doesn't track me? That lets me turn tracking on and off when I need it for a specific application, or track on a specific application basis?

    • by Desler (1608317)

      Even if the phone OS doesn't track you, you're still being tracked by the logged registration events your phone has with the cell towers.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Sure you can, that's how the iPhone works. It's also how Android handsets work, with the added difference that they send data to Google (that you can opt out of).

  • The shit we get ourselves riled up about is downright depressing.

    I'll note that prior to cell phones, every time you used your phone, the telco already had location info on you - the service address!
    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      The shit we get ourselves riled up about is downright depressing.

      I'll note that prior to cell phones, every time you used your phone, the telco already had location info on you - the service address!

      They could not, however, tie it to you. Yes, if you used the phone at home. But what about the pay phone at the local 7-Eleven? How did the telco have location info on "you" from there?

  • The linked to letter states that "Protecting our customers privacy is our primary concern" or something to that effect. If that were true, then why not do something that disables the ability to track the individual customer. A stupid sticker doesn't seem that their concern is that great.

    Verizon is the second largest cell phone company in the US. They should be able to have some clout with what the phones do and don't do and what the applications do and don't do.

    I'd switch in a minute if Verizon started o

    • why not do something that disables the ability to track the individual customer. A stupid sticker doesn't seem that their concern is that great.

      Well, the reality is that your phone has to register with various cell sites. Otherwise, how does the system know what tower to use when you receive a call? And, dare I say it, some people actually like the convenience of being able to use a Navigation system and be able to say, "I want to go to this address" and not have to put in their present address.

      The problem is that most people don't actually understand this. "The phone knows where I am." It's not the phone, necessarily, it's the whole phone netw

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        why not do something that disables the ability to track the individual customer. A stupid sticker doesn't seem that their concern is that great.

        Well, the reality is that your phone has to register with various cell sites. Otherwise, how does the system know what tower to use when you receive a call? And, dare I say it, some people actually like the convenience of being able to use a Navigation system and be able to say, "I want to go to this address" and not have to put in their present address.

        The problem is that most people don't actually understand this. "The phone knows where I am." It's not the phone, necessarily, it's the whole phone network. You've undoubtedly heard of the various criminals who said, "I was nowhere near the murder scene" when, in fact, cell tower records show them making a call from there. So I think a warning label is reasonable--the nature of the system is such that it can figure out where you are.

        If you don't like it, here's a crazy idea: TURN OFF YOUR CELLPHONE. Only turn it on when you need to make a call. When you are done with the call, turn it off.

        I know. That's crazy talk.

        The issue is not about tracking your phone to receive calls or using a GPS. The problem is tracking what you are doing on your phone, where you are doing it and selling the information to marketing firms and others.

        For some reason, using a Garmin as a GPS does not transmit any data about me or what I am doing to Garmin. Why does AT&T or Verizion need to know when I am at Starbucks and how many times a day that may be? Worse yet, why should they be able to sell that information? Same thing for all of

      • If you don't like it, here's a crazy idea: TURN OFF YOUR CELLPHONE. Only turn it on when you need to make a call. When you are done with the call, turn it off.

        Turning it off isn't enough. You have to pull the battery/SIM card. They stress this immensely in DOE security training briefings. Cell phones can be powered on remotely (the power off is a soft-off, more like suspend to RAM than a hard power off), and the mic and cameras can be switched on to transmit data without activating the screen so that the phone looks like it's still off.

    • by Impish (669369)
      According to the submitted letter in article (and I haven't got a Verizon phone, so I cannot check) they say they have location services turned off *by default* on all their phones. Also according to the submitted letter if you turn on location services (all three types) you get warnings regarding "the application will know where you are and share with, etc.".

      So you have:
      1) Sticker on the front saying what location services does.
      2) Location services turned off by default.
      3) Warning when you turn loca
      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        According to the submitted letter in article (and I haven't got a Verizon phone, so I cannot check) they say they have location services turned off *by default* on all their phones. Also according to the submitted letter if you turn on location services (all three types) you get warnings regarding "the application will know where you are and share with, etc.".

        So you have:

        1) Sticker on the front saying what location services does.

        2) Location services turned off by default.

        3) Warning when you turn location services on.

        After all that people complain about "Verizon isn't taking my privacy seriously!"? I don't know about the rest of the services, but come on, that's a lot of warnings a user needs to go through. I'd say they've done their due diligence.

        Note I'm just talking about location services here, if Verizon is ignoring your privacy elsewhere, that is another thread.

        Of course you cannot use most of the features of your phone with location services turned off. No gps, no weather services, etc. You also are still being tracked, as an individual, by the cell towers and if you use messaging, by their gateway. Now obviously, the towers need to track you because they need to know things for billing purposes or even routing calls to and from your phone. That is reasonable.

        However, Verizion and AT&T (and Apple, even) also track where you are as in what stores you are i

  • I'm not sure what all the fuss is about, the cell towers have to know roughly where you are in order to route your calls, sms messages and even to make your phone ring. The only difference I can see is that this info is now being stored on your phone, why is that a problem? We are all carrying round this bit of grey matter which is doing the exact same thing.

    It is still just possible to not be tracked if you follow this advice.
    Don't use a credit card, and don't use a cell phone, don't even carry one, and do

  • And keep it out when not in use (it also makes the batteries last longer) I also keep my phone in a small waterproof case (Otterbox) with a conductive inner coating (that I added).

    • by treeves (963993)

      Not very practical, is it?
        It's a smartphone, so you're using for a lot more than just phone calls, otherwise you wasted your money.
        And then you have to power it down every time you're "done using it", take it out of the case (if it's in one), remove the battery cover, remove the battery, and store the battery and put the cover back on and put it back in the case. Then reverse all of those steps when you want to use it again. Not worth it.

      • It's a very stupid "smartphone" I got it for $40.00 from ConsumerCellular.com, and it's really only for emergencies!

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      I also live inside a giant faraday cage, and I don't have a connection to the mains water supply - that's how they get the tracer chemicals into you.

      I am not on the electricity grid either, since the EM fields control my brain.

      I also never use coupons at the store. That's how they track you!!

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