T-Mobile Automatically Opting Customers In to Expanded Data Collection Program for Targeted Ads

T-Mobile is planning to automatically opt its customers into an advertising program that will see user web and mobile app usage shared with advertisers, reports The Wall Street Journal.

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In a recent privacy policy update, T-Mobile and Sprint customers were informed that their web and mobile app data will be provided to advertisers starting on April 26 unless they specifically opt out. T-Mobile's program will allow advertisers to identify people who have specific interests that can be targeted with ads, such as sports or cooking.

The new advertising policy applies to T-Mobile and Sprint customers. Sprint previously had a similar data sharing partnership with advertisers, but it was only for customers who specifically opted in. The new data sharing program will be the default option, but it will not apply to business accounts or children's lines.

A T-Mobile spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that subscribers want more relevant ads that align with their interests. "We've heard many say they prefer more relevant ads so we're defaulting to this setting," said the spokesperson.

T-Mobile plans to mask user identities to prevent advertisers and other companies from knowing the specific websites they visit or apps they have installed with an encoded user or device ID, but Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Aaron Mackey said that advertisers have ways to link data back to users. "This type of data is very personal and revealing, and it's trivial to link that deidentified info back to you," he said.

T-Mobile's data sharing changes come just as Apple will begin enforcing App Tracking Transparency, a feature that will require app developers to get express user permission before tracking users across apps and websites using the advertising identifier, or IDFA.

App Tracking Transparency is not relevant when it comes to carrier-level data tracking and sharing. Carrier data collection is not new, and AT&T and Verizon both have programs that share user data with advertisers.

AT&T opts wireless subscribers into an ad program that pools them based on inferred interests, with the company sharing more detailed information from customers who opt in. Verizon also pools subscriber data before sharing it with advertisers, plus there's a more extensive data sharing program for users who enroll in Verizon Selects.

T-Mobile customers can opt out of the advertising program through the T-Mobile app or the T-Mobile website. In the app, access the "MORE" tab, select Advertising & Analytics, and toggle off "Use my data to make ads more relevant to me."

On the website, choose "My Account," select "Profile, Privacy, and Notifications, then choose Advertising "& Analytics. From there, turn the opt-in toggle off. Sprint users can change the setting through the Sprint website. Select "Visit My Account," choose "Preferences" and then scroll down to "Manage advertising and analytics preferences." From here, turn off "Use my data to make ads more relevant to me."

AT&T customers can opt out of AT&T's ad program by visiting AT&T's opt out website, and Verizon account privacy controls can be accessed through the Verizon privacy website.

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Top Rated Comments

Osxguy Avatar
42 months ago
Why are we as consumers ok with this?
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nebulance Avatar
42 months ago
I can say that I'm interested in no ads.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WiseAJ Avatar
42 months ago
opt in should never be default on anything
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple_Robert Avatar
42 months ago
T-Mobile sent out an email to all customers about this. T-Mobile also made a big point to tell customers they can opt out and also provided a ink in the same email to do so, which I made use of.

I agree opt in should not be automatic.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
neuropsychguy Avatar
42 months ago

Verizon better not be next...
Verizon and AT&T already do it.

From the article: “AT&T customers can opt out of AT&T's ad program by visiting AT&T's opt out website ('https://signin.att.com/'), and Verizon account privacy controls can be accessed through the Verizon privacy website ('https://secure.verizon.com/').”
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sw1tcher Avatar
42 months ago

A T-Mobile spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that subscribers want more relevant ads that align with their interests. "We've heard many say they prefer more relevant ads so we're defaulting to this setting," said the spokesperson.
?

Anyone here want to see more relevant ads or know anyone who does? I don't.

<-- T-Mobile customer
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)