Repeatedly Hacked T-Mobile Ramps Up The Sale Of User App Download And Behavior Data
from the collect-ALL-the-things! dept
T-Mobile hasn’t been what you’d call competent when it comes to protecting its customers’ data. The company has been hacked numerous different times over the last few years, with hackers going so far as to ridicule the company’s lousy security practices.
A responsible company might slow down on data collection until it was certain it had figured out how to protect the data it collects. But this being the United States, where there’s no real accountability for companies with lax privacy and security standards (outside of four days or so of mean Tweets), T-Mobile has announced that it’s dramatically expanding its collection of user browsing and app download data.
The effort is part of T-Mobile’s new “App Insights” adtech product that was formally launched recently. App Insights will allow marketing companies to further track and target T-Mobile customers based on which apps they’ve downloaded and their “engagement patterns” with said apps — namely how often they use them, how long they remain open on the device, and other metrics.
As Gizmodo notes, there won’t be many restrictions, allowing microtargeting folks by sexual orientation:
T-Mobile also won’t stop marketers from taking things into their own hands. One ad agency exec that spoke with AdExchanger said that one of the “most exciting” things about this new ad product is the ability to microtarget members of the LGBTQ community. Sure, that’s not one of the prebuilt personas offered in the App Insights product, “but a marketer could target phones with Grindr installed, for example, or use those audiences for analytics,” the original interview notes.
The timing of this dramatic expansion in user app data monetization, at a time when abortion bans and potential vigilante action are forging a profound new seriousness in consumer app policy concerns, is a fairly telling representation of how worried a company like T-Mobile is about privacy-related oversight coming from a generally over-extended, under-funded, and under-staffed FTC (as in, not at all).
As with so many modern companies, T-Mobile over-collects data, then doesn’t take the necessary steps to protect said data. It then lobbies U.S. lawmakers to ensure we don’t shore up U.S. privacy protections (as it did when Congress gutted the FCC’s fairly modest broadband privacy rules), and the cycle repeats itself in perpetuity. Making money is, quite literally, the only policy consideration that matters.