Access delivers petition to U.S. agencies to investigate use of zombie cookies by mobile carriers


Today, Access delivered a petition signed by 3,000 users to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the use of so-called “zombie cookies” by mobile carriers to track their customers’ web traffic. Access also delivered a similar petition to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because both agencies arguably have the authority to investigate these harmful practices.

Here’s a video of Access’s Carolyn Tackett hand-delivering the signatures at the FTC:

The use of zombie cookies has also invited scrutiny by American legislators. On February 6, Senators Bill Nelson, Edward Markey, and Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to the FTC and FCC to consider bringing charges against Verizon Wireless.

Access has been fighting the lack of transparency regarding supercookies since last fall, when we learned that the mobile carrier Verizon Wireless had been secretly injecting Unique Identifier Headers, or UIDH, into every single http request made by its mobile users. In response, Access developed a tool that allows mobile users to test whether they are being tracked by their carriers. To date, nearly 148,000 users have taken the test. Not only have we found tracking in the U.S., but we have discovered that the issue may be an international phenomenon in countries such as Spain, the Netherlands, and China.

In addition, we believe that these cookies can make users vulnerable to spoofing by criminals. They could also potentially enable governments to surveil users without their knowledge. Even without this type of third-party abuse, though, the very existence of these cookies violates our privacy rights if we can’t truly opt out.

Help us track which carriers are using zombie cookies. Take our test here.