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T-Mobile made waves back in 2021 when they automatically set user privacy settings to on by default for sharing customer info with advertisers. It made a lot of people angry then, and a new setting that’s appeared in the same settings is once again enabled by default.

A new toggle has shown up in the T-Mobile “Privacy Center”, and it appears to have first been spotted a month ago on Reddit. The toggle is for allowing “automated profiling” of your user data to analyze and predict how a user might behave, particularly when interacting with support.

This article will dive into what exactly “profiling” is in this context, and how you can opt-out for your account.

What is the new “profiling” toggle for?

“Profiling” is a specific type of activity under certain privacy laws, and generally refers to the automated processing of personal data to evaluate, analyze, or predict certain personal aspects about your performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behavior, location, or movements.

A company analyzing such precise details about their users is a bit concerning, automated or not. Based on this broad definition, the on-by-default setting could allow the company to track everything from your location and interests, to how well you perform at work, what income level you’re at, and even your health. Yikes.

It’s not clear exactly when the toggle showed up, but the option to disable it seems to be available now for all accounts. Of course, to make things even more annoying, the toggle must be disabled manually for each line on your account. We’re currently unaware of any ability to toggle it globally for the entire account at once.

Predictive Modeling

In addition to the new toggle, we here at The Mobile Report have obtained an internal document outlining new “predictive models” created by T-Mobile’s “data scientists”.

The models will use customer data (“hundreds of data points”, it says) to predict how a customer might act when calling into support. For example, a customer that has mobile internet lines is more likely to be interested in a home internet line, or a customer that has no active phone installments is more likely to cancel a line.

While it’s not certain this new privacy toggle is directly related to the predictive modeling mentioned in the document, it’s safe to say it’s pretty likely.

Not only is T-Mobile using these models when customers call in, but we’ve heard via multiple tips that T-Mobile is planning to use AI learning to predict why a customer might be visiting a store, too. There has allegedly been discussion of using the T-Mobile app to detect a customer’s account when they enter a store, and have AI predict why they might be visiting.

How to opt-out

The new toggle can be found in T-Mobile’s “Privacy Center Dashboard”. You can click here to go straight to it, or follow the steps below.

  1. Login to your account either on the web or in the app as a full permissions user (typically the account holder’s main line).
  2. On desktop/the web, click “Edit profile settings” at the top. On the app, tap “MORE” at the bottom of the app and then “Profile settings”.
  3. Scroll halfway down the list and choose “Privacy and notifications”.
  4. Find “Privacy dashboard” and open that.
  5. On this page, you’ll have all the privacy opt-out options. Take the time to opt out of all of them, if you haven’t already and want to. Otherwise, scroll down and find the new “Profiling and automated decisions” section, as shown below this list, and disable it.
  6. If you have more than one line, go back to the top, and choose “Manage a different line >”. You’ll need to toggle this for each line on your account.

Final thoughts

Obviously, we’re entering a brave new world when it comes to machine learning and AI tools. AI has exploded in use in the last few years, from generative AI images and videos to auto generated text and stories. Its use by companies like T-Mobile is probably inevitable, but having the toggle on by default isn’t likely to be very popular to consumers.

It’s also not the first time T-Mobile has silently required users to opt-out of a decision they should be informed of and opt into to begin with. Hopefully T-Mobile decides to change course on this before it becomes widely put to use.

What do you think about this new world of AI, especially when it comes to companies using it like T-Mobile? Will you leave the toggle enabled to potentially simplify your customer support experience, or do you think it’s a step too far?

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