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OnePlus to limit data collection from users’ phones after backlash

OnePlus says it will no longer collect telephone numbers, MAC Addresses and WiFi information from users’ devices.

tech Updated: Oct 15, 2017 11:50 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Hindustan Times
OnePlus,OnePlus 3t,One
All OnePlus phones running OxygenOS will have a prompt in the setup wizard that asks users if they want to join OnePlus’ user experience program. (Benjamin Howell/iStockphoto)

OnePlus raised many eyebrows earlier this week after a security researcher discovered that its phones were collecting user data without permission. The Chinese handset company on Saturday it will limit the data it collects and ensure that users are aware of what data they are sending to the OnePlus servers.

OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei in a detailed post on the company’s forum said, “By the end of October, all OnePlus phones running OxygenOS will have a prompt in the setup wizard that asks users if they want to join our user experience program. The setup wizard will clearly indicate that the program collects usage analytics. In addition, we will include a terms of service agreement that further explains our analytics collection.”

He said that OnePlus will no longer collect personally identifiable data such as telephone numbers, MAC addresses and Wi-Fi information.

“We take privacy very seriously and do not share analytics with third parties. Our intention has always been to better serve our users. Looking ahead, we will continue working directly with our users. We appreciate your patience and feedback,” he added.

If you haven’t been up to date with OnePlus’ data collection controversy, here’s what you need to know. Earlier this week, UK-based researcher Chris Moore discovered select models of OnePlus phones running on OxygenOS were collecting critical users’ device data and sending them back to servers in China, without the consent of users.

Moore added that the code responsible for the data transmission was part of the OnePlus Device Manager and OnePlus Device Manager Provider, which run the “OneplusAnalyticsJobService” under the “OnePlus System Service.”

The revelation triggered a major backlash from users and privacy advocates. While OnePlus’ data collection is not very different from what other smartphone companies do, the Chinese handset company came under scanner for not being explicitly clear about what kind of data it was collecting.

“The reason we collect usage analytics through the user experience program is so we can better understand general phone behavior and optimize OxygenOS for a better overall user experience,” Carl wrote on the OnePlus forum, adding “data collection is a standard industry practice.”

If you’re a OnePlus user and don’t want the company to collect your critical data, here’s what you need to do: navigate to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Advanced’ -> ‘Join user experience program’.

Another method, which is a bit tedious, is uninstalling the OnePlus Device Manager via Android Debug Bridge (adb) software by running the command: pm uninstall -k --user 0 net.oneplus.odm.

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 11:16 IST