T-Mobile Now Says It Doesn't Target Subscribers Based On Web Browsing

T-Mobile now says it doesn't use its subscribers' web-browsing data for ad targeting -- but the company still reserves the right to use a host of data about app usage and content viewing for ads.

Last year, T-Mobile updated its privacy policy to say it may draw on customers web surfing and app usage in order to serve them personalized ads, unless people opt out. At the time, a company spokesperson confirmed to MediaPost that T-Mobile uses information “like age, gender, general location, and browsing habits” for ads.

T-Mobile now maintains it doesn't use information about the websites people visit for ad targeting, according to the self-regulatory watchdog BBB National Programs' Digital Advertising Accountability Program. T-Mobile hasn't yet responded to MediaPost's request for comment.

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The self-regulatory group -- which enforces the ad industry's privacy code -- says it launched an investigation of T-Mobile after news surfaced about its apparent plans to draw on customers' web-browsing and app usage for ad targeting. The industry's privacy code requires internet service providers such as T-Mobile to obtain consumers' explicit consent before collecting or using web data for online behavioral advertising.

The Digital Advertising Accountability Program said in a decision unveiled Monday that T-Mobile staff and counsel “specifically disclaimed the use of data collected from web browsing" for behavioral advertising. The self-regulatory group also said that, based on its recommendation, T-Mobile has revised its privacy policy to delete “language referring to the collection of web browsing activity.”

T-Mobile's current privacy policy, even as revised, suggests it draws on a broad range of data for ad targeting -- including subscribers' use of mobile apps, as well as “content interactions, like video and content viewing info.”

The industry's mobile self-regulatory code requires service providers like T-Mobile to obtain consumers' consent before collecting cross-app data.

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