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AT&T ends controversial tracking of wireless customers

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AT&T has backed away from a controversial tracking technique that landed the carrier and rival Verizon Wireless in hot water with consumers and privacy advocates last month. Both providers were quietly inserting unique identifiers into the web activity of their customers — who were given no way to opt out or disable the tracking. The program, which AT&T says it's now halted after a test run, served as a powerful tool for advertisers, but understandably drew the ire of subscribers. "It has been phased off our network," a company spokesperson told ProPublica.

AT&T hasn't dismissed the possibility that it'll relaunch the tracking at some point in the future, but says consumers will have the ability to opt out if there's a wider rollout. Verizon Wireless has also seemingly backed away from the method, as a website set up to check for the high-level technique now shows that phones on the network aren't being tracked. There's always the possibility that Verizon has altered its tracking ID program to avoid detection, but perhaps all the negative press made AT&T and Verizon rethink things.