T-Mobile is one of the major network service providers in the United States, alongside AT&T and Verizon. The carrier has worked its way through to raise its reputation in the market and often calls itself the “Un-carrier”. It has been crowned one of the best 5G providers in the country. However, it appears that even the best 5G company is involved in some of the phishy activities, and in this case, it appears that T-Mobile is selling user data to advertisers.
The company formally launched its advertising platform App Insights (via Ad Exchanger) earlier this month. The program has been in the beta testing phase for the past year, but it has been formally introduced now with a new name. What the App Insights program does is that it allows advertisers and marketers to directly buy user data from the carrier, T-Mobile, itself. In a world where Apple and Google are taking steps to curb data collection, T-Mobile is using its platform to sell user data directly to the advertisers.
For those wondering, App Insights allows advertisers to gain app-based analytics of the users. It enables marketers to track, segment, and target T-Mobile subscribers based on the apps they have installed on their smartphones. Using the program, advertisers can track when you open an app, which Wi-Fi you connect to, and the websites you visit.
The company says that the advertisers cannot directly see the individual user data. Instead, the carrier aggregates people who use the same app, visit the same kind of websites, and do similar things into “personas” and “cohorts”. Advertisers can then target these cohorts to show specific ads. It is similar to the Google Topics API that aims to replace web browser cookies.
T-Mobile executives explained how the data is already being used. For example, McDonald’s used the service to track how many people had their app, as well competitor apps like Burger King and Popeye’s app, installed on their smartphones. Similarly, DoorDash could use the platform to target users who had Uber Eats installed on their phones.
Apple iPhone users are safe, for now
What’s interesting about T-Mobile App Insights is that iPhone users are safe from it even if the feature is enabled. This is primarily due to Apple’s strict privacy guidelines. The company’s executive claims that even though it can extract data from iPhone users, isn’t considering taking the risk right now.
So, for now, T-Mobile is only tracking the data of Android users. The company executives, however, claim that they are “kicking the tires” to get iOS data into the App Insights program. And even though the carrier says that it won’t be able to buy the data of a specific user, as users are aggregated into cohorts, third-party companies can still use the service to target ads. Thankfully, you can easily opt out of the program by just downloading an app on your smartphone.
How to opt out of the program on Android and iPhone
To opt out of T-Mobile’s data collection program on Android smartphones, head over to the Google Play Store and download the Magenta Ads Platform Choices app. Sign in with your mobile number, and you can then request to delete the data T-Mobile has already collected and further ask the company to stop collecting (and selling) your data.
And even though T-Mobile says that iPhone users are excluded from the program, it will be a wise choice to download the Magenta Mktg Platform Choices from the App Store and remove yourself from the program. Just like on Android, you can request to delete and further stop the collection of the data right through the app.
Lastly, if you’re worried about other companies collecting your data, you may want to download the ‘AppChoices’ app from the Digital Advertising Alliance. This single app allows you to opt out from many various advertising networks all at once, including T-Mobile’s data collection program. You can download the AppChoices app from Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Amazon Appstore.
Many carriers have tried to set up similar data collection networks in the past. T-Mobile joining the effort only indicates that marketers are looking at different ways to extract user data, and network-level data collection is becoming a popular choice among them. Thankfully, the carrier is allowing its users to opt out of the program for now. Facing issues while opting out of T-Mobile’s App Insights program? Do let us know in the comments section below!