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The Switchboard: How Verizon Wireless tracks customers’ mobile online activities

( <a href="">nomad73 / Flickr</a> )

Published every weekday, the Switchboard is your morning helping of hand-picked stories from the Switch team.

With a $10 million fine, the FCC is leaping into data security for the first time. "The Federal Communications Commission leapt into data security litigation Friday, levying a $10 million fine against two telecom companies that allegedly stored personally identifiable customer data online without firewalls, encryption or password protection," reports the Switch's Brian Fung. The FCC says the YourTel America and TerraCom, which share the same owners and management, left data including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, names and drivers' license numbers collected to determine the eligibility of potential customers for the Lifeline program exposed.

Verizon Wireless injects identifiers that link its users to Web requests. "Cellular communications provider Verizon Wireless is adding cookie-like tokens to Web requests traveling over its network," Robert Lemos at Ars Technica reports. "These tokens are being used to build a detailed picture of users’ interests and to help clients tailor advertisements, according to researchers and Verizon’s own documentation."

The wacky geopolitics of ‘Civilization: Beyond Earth.’ The Switch's Brian Fung dives into the politics behind the latest entry in the long running Civilization series -- which takes the classic strategy game from historical to science fiction.

Campaign finance officials aim to cure the paper-obsessed Senate through crowd-sourcing, algorithms. The Federal Election Commission is struggling to keep up with the timely digitization of campaign finance reports. But by next election season that could be resolved by a system that distributes bits and piece of reports to online workers for transcription, the Switch's Nancy Scola reports.

Are Online Vendors Giving You Their Best Price? Maybe Not, Research Says. "A new study found that e-commerce sites vary online pricing depending on whether customers use mobile or desktop devices, iOS or Android, and other factors," reports Elizabeth Dwoskin at the Wall Street Journal. The study, from  researchers at Northeastern University, found that sites ranging from Orbitz to Home Depot displayed different pricing based on a variety of factors.