OnePlus makes statement regarding data collection, will release update to reduce what is transmitted
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Earlier this week UK-based security and tech blogger, Chris Moore, detailed how he had assessed data being sent from his OnePlus phone to OnePlus servers. He found that it was transmitting personally identifiable data such as serial number, IMEI, MAC address, and phone number in addition to diagnostic information such as timestamps for functions such as opening apps or turning on the screen.
In a statement, OnePlus clarified that their data collection is classified in two separate streams. The first is ‘usage analytics,’ which are collected for improving user experience. “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,” says Carl Pei, co-founder. “At any time, users can opt-out of usage analytics collection by navigating to 'Settings' -> 'Advanced' -> 'Join user experience program'.” While the OnePlus 5 has a pop-up during device initialization to confirm whether you want to join the user experience program, earlier OnePlus devices enroll the user automatically, requiring users to know that they needed to go and switch the setting off. An update is in development which will add this prompt to earlier OnePlus devices.
The second stream is ‘device information,’ which OnePlus says is collected to improve after-sales support. This likely includes identifying details such as serial number, phone number, MAC address and so forth, which is why it is unfortunate that there doesn’t appear to be a straightforward way to disable this reporting without rooting the phone or installing a new ROM, e.g., LineageOS.
Finally, OnePlus have also claimed that they will reduce the amount of device data they collect after the update, by not gathering the telephone number, MAC address, or WiFi information. “We'd like to emphasize that at no point have we shared this information with outside parties. The analytics we're discussing in this post, which we only look at in aggregate, are collected with the intention of improving our product and service offerings.”