T-Mobile Is Automatically Enrolling Cell Phone Customers Into Ad Tracking Based on Their Online Activity

Drew FitzGerald, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link):

T-Mobile US Inc. will automatically enroll its phone subscribers in an advertising program informed by their online activity, testing businesses’ appetite for information that other companies have restricted.

The No. 2 U.S. carrier by subscribers said in a recent privacy-policy update that unless they opt out it will share customers’ web and mobile-app data with advertisers starting April 26. For example, the program could help advertisers identify people who enjoy cooking or are sports enthusiasts, the company said. […]

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.

If it’s such a great idea that customers just love, why not turn it on for everyone, including business accounts and children’s lines?

Just more proof that no matter what Apple or Google or Microsoft do to help make our devices more private at the operating system level, we’re at the mercy of the companies providing us with internet access, whether through home landline service or cellular. AT&T and Verizon both have similar targeted ad tracking programs, and The Journal has instructions at the bottom of their report for how to opt out of them. But I continue to think the answer, for iCloud users, is a trusted VPN-like anonymizing service from Apple.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021