T-Mobile will share subscriber data with ad partners - unless you opt-out
T-Mobile plans to enroll its wireless subscribers — including iPhone users — automatically into a program that will use their online activity to target ads. Here's how to opt out of the "feature."
The policy changes require users to explicitly opt-out of the program if they don't want T-Mobile to track them. For anyone who doesn't opt-out, T-Mobile will share their online data with advertisers.
The ad-data-sharing program will also include former Sprint customers who are now part of T-Mobile. Sprint previously had a similar ad-sharing program that required users to opt into it.
T-Mobile and Sprint completed their $26 billion merger in April 2020. At that point, former T-Mobile CEO John Legere stepped down. Michael Sievert replaced him and is President and CEO of T-Mobile today.
T-Mobile says it will mask users' identities, but privacy groups note how easy it is to link masked IDs to the people behind them.
"It's hard to say with a straight face, 'We're not going to share your name with it,'" Aaron Mackey, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Wall Street Journal. "This type of data is very personal and revealing, and it's trivial to link that de-identified info back to you."
A T-Mobile spokeswoman said, "We've heard many say they prefer more relevant ads, so we're defaulting to this setting."
How to opt out of T-Mobile's ad-sharing data collection and sale
- Open the T-Mobile app
- Navigate to the More tab
- Choose Advertising & Analytics
- Tap "Use my data to make ads more relevant to me"
- Toggle off both settings
- Repeat this for each line on your plan
Apple has long championed the iPhone as the best choice for privacy. On January 28, Apple released a report about how advertisers can exploit a user's information — and how Apple works to stop it.
By sharing data extracted from cellular traffic rather than on the device, T-Mobile plans to infringe on user privacy in that "last mile" of content delivery from the carrier to the iPhone user that Apple has little direct control over.