T-Mobile is planning to automatically enroll its subscribers in a new “advertising program informed by their online acting,” according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The program will also include Sprint following the T-Mobile merger back in 2020.
In a statement, T-Mobile defended this new program and said that it has heard from many subscribers who say they prefer “more relevant ads,” which this program will make possible. This is also why T-Mobile will make this new data sharing program opt-out rather than opt-in.
A T-Mobile spokeswoman said the changes give subscribers advertising that aligns with their interests. “We’ve heard many say they prefer more relevant ads so we’re defaulting to this setting,” she said. The company said the changes wouldn’t apply to business accounts or children’s lines.
T-Mobile does say that it will “mask users’ identities” to add a layer of privacy protection:
T-Mobile said it masks users’ identities to prevent advertisers and other companies from knowing what websites they visit or apps they have installed. The company tags the data with an encoded user or device ID to protect the customers’ anonymity.
This is, unfortunately, becoming common practice in the wireless industry. Prior to the T-Mobile merger, Sprint offered a similar program, but it was completely opt-in. AT&T and Verizon also automatically enroll subscribers into their own “Relevant Advertising” programs, so in many ways, T-Mobile is playing catch up here.
AT&T and Verizon also both offer “enhanced versions” of their programs that share more data with advertisers, but this is opt-in.
The Wall Street Journal has rounded up details on how to opt out of these “revenant advertising” programs completely. You can get started by visiting these links:
And for T-Mobile customers:
T‑Mobile: In the T‑Mobile app, visit the MORE tab, Advertising & Analytics, Use my data to make ads more relevant to me. Turn the toggle off (gray) to stop. On MyT‑Mobile.com, click the My account drop down, Profile, Privacy and Notifications, Advertising & Analytics, Use my data to make ads more relevant to me. Turn the toggle off (gray) to stop.
The full report at The Wall Street Journal is well worth a read with more details on the growing targeted advertising business of the wireless carriers in the United States.
John Gruber at Daring Fireball also points out that this is just further evidence of how “we’re at the mercy of the companies providing us with internet access,” despite what Apple and other companies do to improve privacy.