Your mobile carrier is making bank on your sensitive data – here’s how to opt-out
You might think you have nothing to hide, but that doesn’t mean your cell carrier should be able to make extra money selling your data, right?
T-Mobile started a new side hustle recently, selling the web browsing and app usage data of its customers for targeted advertising purposes unless they opt-out. While that’s skeevy to begin with, we’ve all seen in recent days that it doesn’t take much to tie the anonymized data that’s sold back to your personal details.
The issue is industry-wide, with the major carriers like AT&T and Verizon also having their versions of programs to sell your data to whoever asks for it, dressed up in language like “more relevant to me” or “business marketing insights.”
It’s possibly more invasive than normal ad tracking, as the mobile carrier knows your location data, what sites you go to, who you speak to on the phone, the mobile apps you use, and anything that happens on your phone that gets transmitted over the airwaves. The only way to limit this is encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, or running a mobile VPN at all times.
T-Mobile might end up getting in hot water for this, as enrolling customers in anti-privacy programs as the default is probably against the law, especially in states like California with sweeping privacy laws.
Until the FCC actually gets off its butt and does something about this selling of your intimate data, here’s how to tell your cellular carrier that it needs to stop.
Opt-out of your cell carrier’s ability to sell your intimate data
You might think you have nothing to hide, but that doesn’t mean your cell carrier should be able to make extra money selling your data, right? After all, you pay them a handsome monthly fee for their services in the first place, this double-dipping is pretty crass.
- Go to T-Mobile on the web
- Go to your Account
- Navigate to Profile settings > Privacy and Notifications > Advertising & Analytics
- Turn off “Use my data to make ads more relevant to me” and “Use my data for analytics and reporting”
You can do this on the T-Mobile app as well:
On the T-Mobile app, tap on More on the menu bar, then Advertising & analytics
- On a desktop browser, go to www.VerizonWireless.com/myprivacy
- Select Don’t share for “Customer Proprietary Network Information,” “Business & Marketing Insights,” and “Relevant Mobile Advertising”
- Also, click on Verizon Selects and make sure you’re not opted-in to Verizon’s personalized ads while you’re on this page. If so, switch that off too.
On the mobile app:
With the Verizon app, tap on More on the menu bar, then tap the gear for Account Settings. Navigate to Manage Privacy Insights then turn off “Customer Proprietary Network Information,” “Business & Marketing Insights,” and “Relevant Mobile Advertising”
- Open a desktop browser and head to AT&T’s Consent Dashboard
- Click on Relevant Advertising and set it to No
- While you’re logged in, look for Enhanced Relevant Advertising and make sure you’re not opted-in to AT&T’s personalized advertising. If so, switch that off too.
If you have the mobile app installed
If you use the AT&T app, tap on More on the menu bar, then on Profile. Navigate to Data & Privacy > Privacy settings > Relevant Advertising and set it to No
There, now your mobile carrier isn’t able to legally sell your sensitive data, and you won’t be getting targeted advertising.
We can’t confirm you’ll get less sketchy adverts for off-brand products, because that’s most of what the non-targeted advertising on the web seems to be nowadays, but at least it won’t be based on as much of your data.
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