OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei took to the company's official forums on Friday to defend its data collection practices which came to light earlier this week after one security researcher discovered that the Chinese phone maker is tracking and compiling identifiable data from owners of any one of its Android-powered devices. While providing a detailed explanation of why the BBK Electronics-owned company is collecting user data, Mr. Pei also announced changes in regards to its practices that sparked some controversy in the industry.
By the end of the month, all active smartphones from OnePlus running OxygenOS will present users with a prompt stating that the company's user experience program collects information and make them opt into the initiative instead of requiring them to opt out of it if they don't want to share their data. Additionally, Mr. Pei pledged that OnePlus will stop collecting Wi-Fi information, telephone numbers, and MAC addresses that the user experience program previously gathered for an unspecified reason. Finally, the co-founder of the Chinese firm also said that a Terms of Service agreement will be added to OxygenOS in order to better explain what data the company is seeking to collect and why.
Before pledging to make changes to address privacy concerns from consumers, Mr. Pei called data collection a regular industry practice and noted that the Shenzhen, Guangdong-based original equipment manufacturer never looked at individual user information but only inspected it on a large scale with the goal of improving its products and (after-sales) services. That argument still doesn't explain its decision to collect smartphone numbers and MAC addresses which hold limited insight value when looked "in aggregate," as Mr. Pei put it. OnePlus co-founder also explicitly stated that the company never shared any data it collected with third parties nor did it have any plans to do so. For the time being and until the promised update arrives to the presently active OnePlus devices, users who'd like to leave the firm's program that collects data can do so by locating the "Join user experience program" option in the "Advanced" section of their system Settings app. OnePlus users running custom ROMs aren't sharing their data with the OEM through the service, with the company stating that those who do always had the option of opting out of the user experience program. The latest development comes amid rumors that the Chinese firm is preparing to launch the OnePlus 5T by the end of the year.