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How to stop your cell provider from sharing (some of) your data

And why you should.

6/20/2021 4:37:00 PM

And why you should.

And why you should.

This should bother you.Your phone, and consequently your mobile provider, know a lot about you. The places you go, apps you use, and the websites you visit potentially reveal all kinds of private information — e.g. religious beliefs, health conditions, travel plans, income level, and specific tastes in pornography.

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Thankfully, there are small steps you can take to stop this data collection and reclaim an ounce of the privacy that, by default, you deserve.WATCH: It's surprisingly easy to be more secure onlineWhat T-Mobile collects and shares, and how to opt out

As the company'sprivacy policymakes clear, T-Mobile collects a lot of customer data.Some of which, like customers' names or credit card numbers, is directly tied to the functioning of the service itself. With other collected data, like"information about your interests, preferences, or behaviors," the link is not as immediately obvious.

Notably, not only does T-Mobile collect information that you directly provide the company (like your name), and information that's gathered by means of you using its services (like your IP address), but the company may also"buy or get personal data from other third parties, like social media platforms, analytics providers, and consumer data resellers."

The company also says that it makes inferences about its customers based on observing their behavior."For example, we may infer that you are looking to purchase a new device based on your browsing activity while using our services, and we may use your IP address to estimate your general location," explains the

T-Mobile privacy policy. "We may also use this information for advertising purposes."OK, so T-Mobile uses your data to target you with ads and further profit off you. But what, specifically, about sharing your data with unspecified third parties? Well, T-Mobile reserves the right to do just that, too.

"We may also share mobile device identifiers, device and service usage data, and demographics information with third-party advertising partners who may use data to serve ads for T‑Mobile and others as described in the Advertising section," explains the

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privacy policy.When asked what specific companies T-Mobile shares customer data with, a spokesperson declined to provide us with a list.Notably,T-Mobile liststhe information"[it] and others may collect and use for advertising and analytics," which include"Addresses of websites visited,""Unique IDs such as device IDs, ad IDs, and cookie IDs," and"Applications, content, and features used—including how much time you spent using them[.]"

Importantly, the company claims it does make efforts to anonymize the data it shares by, in part, associating it with advertising IDs instead of customer names."When we share data, we only share the audience segment and associated Ad IDs," explained the spokesperson over email."We do not share underlying customer broadband or device usage data with third parties. We also do not share information for advertising that directly identifies customers, like name, address, email or precise location information."

Unique ad IDs, however, canstill be quite revealing. Thankfully, there's a way out of at least some of this.The company announced that, as of April 26, it intends to begin using"information we learn from your web and device usage data (like the apps installed on your device) and interactions with our products and services, for our own and 3rd party advertising, unless you tell us not to."

That last clause is an important one:"...unless you tell us not to."Although you may need to tell the company more than once, as T-Mobile is kind enough to inform us,"If you opted-out of a previous T‑Mobile or Sprint advertising program, that setting will not apply," warns the privacy policy."You must opt-out again."

Luckily, it's pretty easy to do just that. Read more: Mashable »

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