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How to opt out of T-Mobile’s creepy new data collection program

Published Jun 29th, 2022 10:38AM EDT
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Image: Michael Buckner/BGR

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T-Mobile might call itself the “Un-carrier,” but many of its practices are identical to those of its competitors. For example, T-Mobile is happy to sell your data to third-party marketers. In fact, T-Mobile recently launched a program called App Insights that allows those marketers to buy user data directly from the carrier.

Ad Exchanger reports that T-Mobile debuted App Insights — its app-based analytics platform — last week after a year of beta testing. It “allows marketers to track, segment and target T-Mobile wireless subscribers based on the apps they have installed on their phone and their engagement patterns,” according to the report.

T-Mobile launches new data selling program

With App Insights, marketers can track when you open an app, which WiFi networks you join, and the websites you visit. T-Mobile aggregates this data to create “personas,” which is what the carrier calls its cohorts. As the report explains, if you have ADP or Concur on your phone, T-Mobile might put you in the business traveler persona.

In other words, marketers won’t be able to buy the data of a specific user. But as we’ve seen countless times in the past, identifying an individual in an “anonymized” pool of data is often not much of a challenge. Nevertheless, T-Mobile is proudly advertising its creepy program on its website. At this point, you may be thinking about Un-subscribing from the Un-carrier. The good news, as noted by The Verge, is that you can opt out.

T-Mobile Advertising Solutions
T-Mobile Advertising Solutions collect your app data and sell it to marketers. Image source: T-Mobile

First and foremost, it’s worth noting that T-Mobile isn’t collecting data from Apple devices. Jess Zhu, T-Mobile’s head of advertising products and development, told Ad Exchanger that app data from iOS users would be of lower quality because there aren’t unique IDs tracking users across apps. T-Mobile could try to scrounge as much data as possible anyway, but it’s apparently not worth the risk of getting on Apple’s bad side.

Android device users weren’t so lucky. If you own an Android device and have a plan with T-Mobile, you will need to manually opt out. Thankfully, it’s a fairly easy process.

First, download the Magenta Ads Platform Choices app from Google Play. This will allow you to see the companies that are tracking you and the data they are collecting. You can request to delete that data and ask T-Mobile to stop selling your data in the app.

Of course, you might not want to download a T-Mobile app to ask T-Mobile to stop tracking your app usage. If not, you can download AppChoices from the Digital Advertising Alliance instead. AppChoices will also let you opt out of data collection.

Both apps are also available on the App Store, if and when T-Mobile decides that it’s worth the risk to start collecting and selling data from iOS devices.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.

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