T-Mobile logoSource: Android Central

Update, Mar 11 (2:20 pm ET): Google Fi customers will not be included in T-Mobile's new policy

What you need to know

  • T-Mobile has updated its privacy policy and will automatically share web and app data from users for third-party ads.
  • Both T-Mobile and Sprint customers will have to proactively opt-out of sharing this information.
  • The privacy change won't take effect until April 26th, and users can change their privacy settings now.

While T-Mobile may have some of the best deals on new phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21, some customers may not appreciate this latest move. The company recently released an update to its privacy policy that outlines some changes that it's making regarding how it uses subscriber data. The policy was spotted by the Wall Street Journal, notes that T-Mobile will start automatically collecting data from its customers to use for third-party advertising.

T-Mobile notes that personally identifying data is not shared and that users are given unique advertising identifiers to serve relevant ads to subscribers:

For most of how we use your data, nothing's changed. However, starting April 26, 2021, T‑Mobile will begin a new program that uses some data we have about you, including 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.

This means that T-Mobile subscribers have to proactively opt-out if they don't want their data shared for third-party ads. T-Mobile also specifies that certain data like precise location data won't be shared unless users allow it. This also will not apply to businesses or childrens' lines.

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This is hardly different from what the best carriers in the U.S. do. Still, it is a fairly questionable move for the "Uncarrier" and second-largest U.S. mobile network by subscribers, particularly in the wake of WhatsApp's privacy drama with Facebook. This also changes things for Sprint customers since they previously had to opt-in to these kinds of data sharing practices, something that T-Mobile also highlights.

This program changes the way Sprint offered choices for sharing in the past, as this data was previously used only if you indicated that it was OK with you first. We may occasionally ask you to confirm your choices.

The new policy change affects Metro by T-Mobile customers as well. Fortunately, T-Mobile makes it fairly easy for subscribers to opt-out of the service by signing into your account and changing the settings in your privacy tools. Sprint and Metro by T-Mobile subscribers can also visit their respective links in T-Mobile's updated privacy notice to change their settings.

Update, Mar 20 (2:20 pm ET) ― T-Mobile policy change won't apply to Google Fi subscribers

According to 9to5Google, Google Fi has indicated that its customers will not be subjected to T-Mobile's new data sharing policy. Since Google Fi primarily piggybacks off T-Mobile's network, this may have been a concern for some customers. Given that they will not be included in the new data-sharing program, there is no need for action on Google Fi's customers.

T-Mobile has specified that its own branded customers, such as those on Metro by T-Mobile and former Sprint subscribers, will be affected by the change, but made no mention of any of the best MNVO carriers outside of Metro that utilize its network like Mint Mobile. It's safe to assume that they are safe from the new policy as well, but it's always a good idea to check with their respective customer service representatives to make sure.