Apparently, AT&T now joins the club of people who'll “sell” your data, including browser history, location etc. to advertisers in order for the advertisers to present you with more specific, personalized ads.
Obviously, you and I don't like this but in their quest to milk the cow as much as possible, they will now start making money off your data on your iPhone. Of course, you can opt out of this and it is recommended that you do.
Companies use your data all the time. Facebook recently came through the scanner for unclear policy terms that actually laid out how your data is ‘sold' to advertisers. Google does it too. And incidentally, network service providers have been doing it for long, according to AT&T which is now considering doing the same.
The marketing copy goes like this: your data is being sold to the advertisers so that the ads can be personalized and cater to your needs more precisely. The most damning part of this is that your iPhone's/iPad's browser history, the iPhone/iPad location etc. are tracked, stored and – anonymized and aggregated – and then sold. TechCrunch, which reported this change of policies in AT&T, says data anonymization just doesn't work the way it's supposed to.
The new policy says:
The new programs we are introducing will use aggregate and anonymous data to create marketing and analytics reports, and to allow us to deliver more relevant advertising to our customers. In creating these programs, we wanted to make sure they fit with our privacy commitments. That’s why we also created consumer controls that will allow you to choose not to have your anonymous information included in these reports, and to choose not to receive the more relevant advertising if you don’t want it.
It's a beautiful trick because by default, the data collection is enabled and it is only disabled when you don't want AT&T to track the data.
If you are an iPhone user (or an iPad user) and a subscriber of AT&T, you might want to disable this.
Here's how to disable this and opt out of the tracking:
- Go to http://att.com/cmpchoice
- Login to your account
- Opt-out and logout of your account. That's it.
For other users:
- You can opt out by calling 1-800-333-9956
- Or login to My Verizon
- Click on the ‘Account' tab
- Go to Account Profile, scroll to Alerts & Preferences
- Now click on Manage Privacy Settings and disable it.
Sprint: You opt-out of the services via this link.
T-Mobile: You'll have to disable the cookie settings via NAI, the agency that T-Mobile goes through. The link is here.