FTC, FCC Urged to Probe Verizon ‘Supercookies' for Possible Violations

The Telecommunications Law Resource Center is the most comprehensive reference and news platform for communications law, covering broadcasting, cable, broadband, telephony and wireless;...

By Alexei Alexis

Feb. 6 — Senate Democrats Feb. 6 urged federal regulators to investigate recent reports that “supercookies” developed by Verizon Wireless have been used to track the habits of cellphone users.

Members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, including Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the panel's raking member, raised the matter in letters to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

Meanwhile, Nelson is looking at whether legislation is needed to regulate the use of supercookies, according to a press release.

“This whole supercookie business raises the specter of corporations being able to peek into the habits of Americans without their knowledge or consent,” Nelson said. “That’s why I think we need to get to the bottom of this and perhaps new legislation.”

The letters to the FTC and FCC were also signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.).

Using Verizon-developed supercookies, a third-party advertiser was able to gather information on customers' wireless Internet activity, according to press reports. Supercookies are generally considered to be more difficult for users to remove from their devices than regular cookies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexei Alexis in Washington at aalexis@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at hrothman@bna.com

The letter to the FCC can be found at http://op.bna.com/der.nsf/r?Open=sfre-9tgsrf.

The letter to the FTC is available at http://op.bna.com/der.nsf/r?Open=sfre-9tgst5.