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T-Mobile will share subscribers' web and app data starting April 26th

The Wall Street Journal reports that T-Mobile subscribers will be sharing some of their personal web and mobile app data with advertisers starting on April 26th. They can avoid this by opting out of the program prior to that date (more on that below). Interestingly, the nation’s second largest carrier is requiring that its customers opt-out to avoid sharing data while other firms like Apple will soon prevent ad trackers from siphoning iPhone users’ personal data by default.

To prevent getting tracked, T-Mobile customers need to opt-out of a data sharing program by April 26th

T-Mobile says that the data it collects could help advertisers save money by allowing them to identify subscribers that enjoy certain things. For example, a company looking to reach sports fans could target certain T-Mobile customers whose web use and app selections show them to be dyed-in-the-wool sports fans. A T-Mobile spokesman says, “We’ve heard many say they prefer more relevant ads so we’re defaulting to this setting.” This new policy also affects Sprint subscribers and those who are customers of pre-paid carrier Metro by T-Mobile. Business accounts and lines used by children are not included with these changes. T-Mobile also hides the identities of subscribers so that advertisers can’t discover which websites they visit or apps that they install. It should be noted that prior to its acquisition by T-Mobile, Sprint customers did not share their personal data unless they opted into the program. This changes for them on April 26th.

Privacy groups are concerned that by comparing data that has been collected, T-Mobile subscribers still can be identified. Aaron Mackey, a lawyer for the consumer-privacy advocate Electronic Frontier Foundation says, “It’s hard to say with a straight face, ‘We’re not going to share your name with it.’ This type of data is very personal and revealing, and it’s trivial to link that deidentified info back to you.”

To opt out of the program, T-Mobile subscribers should open the T-Mobile app, tap the MORE tab and select Advertising & Analytics > Use my data to make ads more relevant to me. Use the toggle switch to turn off the setting which will then show a gray color. Or, you can go to MyT-Mobile.com and click on the drop down called My account. Follow these directions: Profile, Privacy and Notifications > Advertising & Analytics > Use my data to make ads more relevant to me. Turn the toggle off to opt-out of the program (it will turn gray).

Metro subscribers can open the mobile app or go to https://www.metrobyT-Mobile.com/iba. To use the latter web address, you must be on a mobile browser. Using the app or the mobile website, visit the Account tab > Network and Location Settings > Use my data to make ads more relevant to me. Turn the toggle off (gray) to stop. Sprint customers need to open the Sprint website (https://www.sprint.com/en/login.html). Tap on Visit My Account > Preferences, and scroll down to All about my account. Select Manage advertising and analytics preferences; Select the line you would like to update, then click on Use my data to make ads more relevant to me. Tap on the ‘OFF’ radio button to opt out.

AT&T automatically enrolls its wireless customers into the basic Relevant Advertising program. You can opt out by heading to your browser and typing in https://www.att.com/cmpchoice. At Verizon, you can opt out of the Relevant Online Advertising program, by logging into the My Verizon app. Go to Account Settings > Preferences > Manage privacy settings and select the phone number that you want to opt out with. The third toggle down is for Relevant Mobile Advertising. Toggle the switch to off and you have opted out. AT&T and Verizon use a similar method that pools user data based on presumed customer interests.

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