Updated on 12/13/2022 with current opt-out instructions for AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
All carriers collect their customers' personal data. Today, this includes your browsing history, which apps you use, where you live, information about your device, biometric data, and more. While you can turn on anti-tracking for iOS and Android devices to help prevent apps and websites from tracking you, your carrier doesn't rely on your phone to leak your personal data as you browse the web and use internet-connected apps. It already knows.
The data that carriers collect can be used to target ads and share business and marketing insights with third parties. Information shared with third parties doesn't identify you specifically but rather your generic profile. However, your carrier stores your unique profile and activity data in your "customer proprietary network information," or CPNI.
Carriers do let you opt out of sharing and using your data, including your CPNI. It just takes a few clicks to opt out of data sharing for all major cellular providers. However, just like with Facebook privacy settings, it's important to check your carrier privacy settings every year as policies and programs continually change. Here's my step-by-step guide for the major carriers.
How to opt out of AT&T data sharing
- Log on to your AT&T account. This link will take you to the "ATT Consent Dashboard" page.
- Scroll down to "Control how we use your data." You'll see options for "Relevant Advertising," "Enhanced Relevant Advertising," Third-Party Services," "DNS Error Assist," and "External Marketing & Analytics Reports." Each section explains what's being shared. Toggle off sharing for every phone number on your account.
- Fill out the Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Data form.
- Fill out the CPNI Restriction Request Form.
How to opt out of Verizon data sharing
Verizon automatically opts you into data sharing through its "Custom Experience" program, but you may have opted into Verizon's Custom Experience Plus, or Verizon Selects, as it used to be called. In addition to your browsing and app data, Custom Experience Plus uses your CPNI, the phone numbers you call, and location information.
- Log into your Verizon account. This link will take you to the "privacy choices" page in My Verizon.
- You'll find options for "Customer Experience," "Customer Experience Plus," "Business & Marketing Insights," and "Customer Proprietary Network Info (CPNI)." Opt out for every phone number.
- Click "Save Changes"
How to opt out of T-Mobile data sharing
- Log in to your T-Mobile account. This link will take you to the "Manage your privacy settings" page. You can select a line to change your settings at the top of the page. You'll need to repeat the following steps for each line on your account.
- Toggle off the options in "Analytics and reporting " and "Advertising options."
- Click on "Manage Do Not Sell" and fill out the form.
[Image credit: Big data watching concept via BigStockPhoto]